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2021 Elementary Science Teacher Award Spotlight: Mahrukh Naim

Over the past year, Ms. Naim, a second-year educator and 5th grade science teacher at Paige Elementary School, has overcome the unforeseen reality of a teaching in a virtual environment with her students. Nevertheless, the former healthcare practitioner and Mother has found a way to merge science and distance learning to maintain the curiosity of her students despite the physical distance.

“I love teaching science because there’s so much hands on experience. You get to do labs, simple experiments with simple objects at this level that we are at […], and with kids exploring all this stuff, they learn so much stuff, […] they get to experience so much, and they make observations, and that opens up their minds,” said Ms. Naim. This school year marks her first time teaching elementary level science students (she previously taught 6th grade middle school science).

Some of the challenges that Ms. Naim experienced during the pandemic included technical issues to connect to the internet, having the direct support of her school administration, developing a natural teacher to student connection, and even being unaware of her student’s social emotional behavior. As a Mother herself, Ms. Naim understands the transgressions that her students may potentially face in their own lives outside of the classroom. Therefore, Ms. Naim goes above and beyond for her students to not only be available to them as an educator, but also as a source of emotional support.

Fun Fact: Ms. Naim is a certified respiratory therapist who previously worked in clinical rotations for two years before making the switch to teach pupils in the classroom.

Understandably, due to the obstacles presented by the pandemic, Ms. Naim was very intentional about keeping her students engaged. “We got to keep focused. We got to stay on track, and we got to keep trying,” said Ms. Naim. To achieve this goal, Ms. Naim coordinated several virtual activities, including games such as puzzles, virtual portal interactions, motivational songs, educational YouTube videos, Turn and Talk, and many more.

Now, Ms. Naim is looking forward to what’s to come and is optimistic about continuing to serve in her passion for her students, no matter what variables may come next. “The important thing is that things never stay the same. They change, and you just hope for the best, and pray for the best.”

Ms. Naim is one of the six Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher finalists of the 2020 – 2021 alliantgroup-HISD Elementary Science Teacher Award! This award was created to reward local teachers who, through innovative lesson plans that emphasize both the importance and fun aspects of science, are increasing student achievement and engagement.

Five of the finalists received a cash prize of $1,300 and $500 for their classroom and the grand prize winner received a cash prize of $3,500 and $500 to put toward improving their classroom!

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The Blue Heart Fund was created by alliantgroup’s CEO—Dhaval Jadav—with the goal of giving back to our community and extending STEM-education opportunities to students across the nation.