A Presidential Awardee was my physics teacher in high school. Twenty years later he encouraged me to apply for the award myself. A Presidential Award means the opportunity to thank him for changing my life and my classroom. It also means the opportunity to thank the countless teachers and administrators who have helped me. Most importantly, the Presidential Award is an opportunity to thank my students for asking good questions. We will continue to think of ways to ask even better ones.

Philip Culcasi Wheaton, IL | 7-12, Science, 2017

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Philip "Phil" Culcasi has been teaching chemistry, physics, and mathematics for 21 years. For the past 17 years at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, he has taught all levels of chemistry. He currently teaches 10th-grade Chemistry. Previously he taught at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA, and Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, IL. Phil brings the modeling method into his classroom and asks his students paradigm questions. From there, the class has whiteboard discussions to uncover meaning in their labs, activities, and problems. Phil is a member of the American Modeling Teachers Association and is the director of the Midwest Modeling Institute (MMI). For the past seven summers, MMI has provided professional development in biology, chemistry, and physics and provides middle school science modeling instruction to teachers. To date, almost 700 teachers from over 30 states and several countries have participated in 60 hours of modeling instructions. Additionally, Phil presents at local conferences and organizes a countywide institute day for 250 teachers. He is currently serving as his school's Science Department Chair. Phil earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a M.A. in secondary education from Lewis University. He is certified in chemistry, mathematics, and physics. He earned National Board Certification in 2012.