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Wicomico Teacher of the Year Hemalatha Bhaskaran Honored with Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Wicomico County Public Schools and the Wicomico County Board of Education proudly congratulate 2020-2021 Wicomico Teacher of the Year Hemalatha Bhaskaran on being honored with a 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching as Maryland’s top secondary science teacher. 

“We could not be more proud of Mrs. Bhaskaran, who represents the very best in science teaching at James M. Bennett High School,  in Wicomico County Public Schools, in Maryland Public Schools and in the nation,” said Dr. Donna C. Hanlin, Superintendent of Schools. “We are amazed at the work she does in the classroom not only to educate students about the environment, but to engage each and every student in being an active learner. She is a positive influence in her student’s lives, in her school and in her community, and is truly deserving of this Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.”

Mrs. Bhaskaran, who teaches environmental science, represents the teachers of Wicomico County Public Schools in the 2020-2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year Recognition Program. She is one of Maryland’s two honorees for the 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), with the other Maryland teacher receiving the award for mathematics.

“I would say that this award belongs to everyone who has been a part of my journey as a teacher: my family, my students, my students’ parents and guardians, my colleagues, my administrators, my supervisor, my mentors and my community partners,” Mrs. Bhaskaran said. “This prestigious recognition is for everyone’s hard work. It is because of them that I have become a better teacher. I’m looking forward to even more learning opportunities that I can bring into my classroom as part of the PMAEST 2019 cohort.”

She received the good news 10 days ago in an email, but had to keep it quiet from anyone but her family until the honor was officially announced in a White House virtual announcement late yesterday afternoon. President Donald J. Trump announced the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This class of 107 awardees was selected from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to Kindergarten through 12th Grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science. A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the State and National levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

Mrs. Bhaskaran was the 2014 Maryland’s Environmental Science Teacher of the Year, and was a key member of her school’s successful effort to become a certified Maryland Green School. She promotes diversity beyond the classroom through her leadership of the Solutions for Multicultural Achievement and Recognition Team (SMART), and engages in collaborative leadership by serving in on her school’s Instructional Leadership Team, the Youth Environmental Action Summit’s steering committee, and the statewide Teacher Environmental Literacy Leadership.

“Hema is an outstanding science teacher who is committed to the success of all students,” said Dr. Brian Raygor, Science Supervisor for Wicomico County Public Schools. “This award recognizes her work as both a scientist and an educator as she constantly seeks to provide her students with opportunities to see the importance of environmental science in their daily lives.”

Mrs. Bhaskaran received a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Kongunadu College of Arts and Science (India) in 1998, and a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Bharathiar University (India) in 2000. She received a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2004. Dr. Madhumi Mitra, Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Coordinator of Biology and Chemistry Education at UMES, remembers Mrs. Bhaskaran as a dedicated and diligent student in the Master of Arts in Teaching program, one who always displayed UMES “Hawk Pride” in her work, valued diversity, and was reflective, innovative and effective. In observing Mrs. Bhaskaran’s classroom internship teaching at JMB, Dr. Mitra noted that, “She connected very well with the students and they loved the way she taught and interacted with them. Her commitment towards her profession is exemplary.”

Now a teacher, Mrs. Bhaskaran was hired in 2004 to teach Environmental Science and AP Environmental Science at James M. Bennett High.

“It is Mrs. Bhaskaran’s heart that makes her a standout teacher, scientist and leader,” said Christel Savage. Principal of James M. Bennett High. “She puts her love of environmental science and students into ever lesson she creates, resulting in great teaching and great relationships. All of us at James M. Bennett High School are so proud of her.”

Mrs. Bhaskaran lives in Salisbury with her husband, Bhaskaran Subramanian, and their son, Adithya Bhaskaran, a student at Bennett Middle.