Education Superstar Earns Presidential Award
Hema Bhaskaran (left) at a Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) field program at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Reserve.
Please join NERRA in a huge round of applause congratulating Chesapeake Bay Reserve-Maryland’s superstar education partner, Hema Bhaskaran, on receiving the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching!
Hema is an environmental science teacher at James M. Bennet high school in Salisbury, Maryland, and a mentor teacher for the Reserve’s Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) program. The Presidential Award for Excellence is the highest federal commendation for K through 12 teachers of mathematics and science.
“TOTE is an integral part of my growth as a teacher and as a teacher leader in environmental literacy,” says Hema. “As a mentor teacher in TOTE, I have the opportunity to work with a team of outstanding environmental educators and innovators in the field of environmental literacy.”
“Hema has been an incredible resource and advocate as a TOTE mentor teacher for the past three years,” says Coreen Weilminster, education coordinator at the Reserve. “This year she was the person who made it possible to translate our TOTE programs into a virtual format due to the pandemic. We were able to make it happen because of her hard work. She has been a teacher to all of us; we are so proud to see her recognized with this award!”
The TOTE mentor teacher position is made possible through the Reserve’s partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which hosts and trains mentor teachers for all their teacher professional development offerings. Hema is also a mentor for the Reserve’s Shoring Up Resilience Through Education program, which supports climate resilience education in Maryland’s coastal Somerset County.
Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) workshops are teacher training programs provided at most of the 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves. Each year, hundreds of teachers gain hands-on experience with real estuary science through TOTE, and bring that back to impact thousands of students. The TOTE program at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Reserve is a collaborative effort supported by the Reserve, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.