INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: John DeBakey, Windermere Preparatory School

John DeBakey is the middle school dean of students at Windermere Preparatory School.

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John DeBakey is the middle school dean of students at Windermere Preparatory School. His job duties include enforcing the school’s honor code, helping with academic support and probation, monitoring student behavior, checking attendance, planning school events, overseeing traffic, monitoring safety, and implementing security. WPS officials said although DeBakey serves in a disciplinary role, the students “absolutely love him, and he makes such a positive impact on our WPS community.”

What brought you to your school?

My wife got the job as the boarding admissions manager at Windermere Prep in the spring of 2021. When the middle school dean position opened the following year, I applied and got the job.  

What do you love most about your school?

What I love most about Windermere Prep is the diversity of the student body. With so many students attending from all over the world, our classrooms are diverse, and each student brings (his or her) own unique story. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping students achieve success, both academically and socially, during their middle-school years. By helping students navigate the challenges of middle school, I feel I can help set them up for success in high school and beyond.   

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?  

If I was not an educator, I would love to be the general manager of either a football or baseball team. Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I would love the challenge of building a team and trying to win championships.  

Who influences you?  

My parents had the most influence on me growing up. Both my parents were educators, so I feel I was destined to be an educator, as well. I saw the impact they had on the lives of their students and wanted to help students in the same way.  

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My favorite teacher in school was Dr. Smith, my freshman year political science teacher. His classes were so interesting because of the way he could relate the material to our daily lives. I enjoyed his sense of humor and how he weaved his experiences to the topics we studied in class. I became a political science major largely because of the impact he had on me.  

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

My favorite children’s book was “Where the Wild Things Are.” I loved the illustrations and the message of a young boy escaping to a fictional world of make believe.    

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy playing golf, reading and playing the guitar.  

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

If I could dine with any famous person, it would be Abraham Lincoln. I am fascinated by his life and how he managed to lead the country during one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s history. In addition, he suffered through personal tragedy and harsh criticism to do what he felt was right.  

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I would choose the ability to time travel. I think the idea of traveling to different moments in human history and to various galaxies would be fascinating.   

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

The three bands I would listen to would be Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam and The Beatles. I grew up listening to these bands, and their music brings back a lot of great memories of my youth. In addition, I enjoy their lyrics and I can play many of their songs. 

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

My favorite lunch as a kid was a PB&J sandwich, and my favorite snack was a bag of Doritos.  

What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is Christmas. I enjoy spending the holiday season with my family and decorating the Christmas tree. 

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? 

My best friend growing up was Ben Butler, because he lived up the street from me, and he was the first kid I met in my new neighborhood. Yes, we still keep in touch after 37 years of friendship.  

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

I played football, basketball and baseball in high school. I was an all-county football and baseball player, and my senior year I won the sportsmanship award for baseball at my high school.  



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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