SALISBURY – James M. Bennett High School educator Hemalatha Bhaskaran has been named one of seven finalists for the statewide Teacher of the Year award.
Last week, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced the seven finalists for 2020-2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year. Baskaran, who teaches environmental science at Bennett, is now one step closer in the running for the statewide recognition program.
“These outstanding educators are a true inspiration to their colleagues and students,” Salmon said. “Our seven finalists exemplify excellence in education here in Maryland and have made a true impact in the support they provide to our communities in and out of the classroom.”
A panel of judges from key educational organizations that represent principals, teachers, school boards, parents, and institutions of higher education selected from teachers representing each of Maryland’s 24 local school systems. The seven finalists were chosen based on a rigorous set of state and national criteria, including teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and desire for professional and instructional improvement.
“Maryland’s teachers show unwavering dedication in their work to educate, encourage, and inspire our young people,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “I congratulate these seven educators on their nominations and thank them for their extraordinary work in the classroom and in our communities.”
In May, Bhaskaran was named Wicomico County’s Teacher of the Year. And in August, she was honored with a 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest award given by the federal government to kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science teachers.
Bhaskaran has been teaching at Bennett since 2004 and holds master’s degrees in environmental science and teaching. She was the 2014 Maryland Environmental Science Teacher of the Year, and was a key member of her school’s successful effort to become a certified Maryland Green School.
Baskaran 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.
“It is Mrs. Bhaskaran’s heart that makes her a standout teacher, scientist and leader,” James M. Bennett Principal Christel Savage said. “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.”
The 2020-2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced on Maryland Public Television (MPT) on Oct. 8 in a special program airing at 8 p.m. on MPT2 and in a livestream on MPT’s YouTube.com channel, MarylandPublicTV.
The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.
The selected Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award and spend the year as an educational speaker and advisor.