I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Presidential Award. I pursued a career in education to spark curiosity and ignite a passion for science and critical thinking and this is a true validation of my career choice and passion. The Award is a reminder that the work that my colleagues and I do matters. I owe everything to all my students, mentors, friends, and most importantly, my family. I look forward to interacting with my fellow nominees and working with them in the future.

Hemalatha Bhaskaran Salisbury, MD | 7-12, Science, 2019

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

Hemalatha “Hema” Bhaskaran has been teaching at James M. Bennett High School since 2004. In her 15-plus years as an educator, she has taught biology, chemistry, environmental science, and advanced placement environmental science across freshmen to senior levels. Hema is passionate about providing meaningful educational experiences for all her students. In her classroom, she focuses on developing 21st-century skills through real-world scientific exploration and problem solving. Hema has served as a mentor-teacher in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s program “Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) Data Edition,” which is a professional development program that provides hands-on outdoor learning experiences for teachers. As an educator, Hema has always empowered her students to find solutions to environmental issues and provided them platforms to showcase their solutions. In 2019 and 2020, she mentored her students to present their solutions at the Youth Environmental Action Summit. Hema promotes diversity beyond the classroom through leadership of her school’s solutions for multicultural achievement and recognition team. As well, Hema engages in collaborative leadership by serving on her school’s instructional leadership team, the Youth Environmental Action Summit’s steering committee, and statewide teacher environmental literacy leadership. She was one of nine teachers who represented Maryland as a part of NEXUS for Science Education Leadership. Hema earned a M.S. in environmental science from Bharathiyar University and a M.A.T from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She was Maryland’s 2014 Environmental Science Teacher of the Year and is currently a semi-finalist for the Wicomico County Teacher of the Year award.