Since earning her teaching credential from Cal State University, Bakersfield 12 years ago, Aneek daGama has been teaching in the High Desert. She spent two of those years with the Palmdale School District before she began teaching with the Lancaster School District. Aneek received her STEM certification from Project Lead The Way and is currently in her third year as the STEM teacher at Discovery School.
This will be Aneek’s fourth year of involvement with MEEC. She started attending teacher workshops while she was a fourth grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Lancaster but has taken on a more active role since she arrived at Discovery School in Lancaster. “What MEEC offered went hand in hand with both my science standards, and the Energy and the Environment module that I teach for a STEM elective. There is not a day that goes by that my class does not use some type of resource that we have received from MEEC,” Aneek said when asked about some of her MEEC experiences. Teacher workshops are not the only program that she has taken advantage of. Since her involvement, Aneek has been a recipient of EnviroBus Bucks Transportation grants, EE Mini Grants and has brought two teams to the annual Youth Environmental Leadership Conference (YELC). Most recently she was selected to receive one of MEEC’s full scholarships to attend the Key Issues Institute for a week in Silverthorne, CO.
In addition to attending the Key Issues Institute, this summer she attended a two-week study tour of Japan as part of the Fulbright Japan –U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). In February, Aneek was informed that she had been selected for this honor from a national application pool of over 300 educators, for one of 24 spots. “Needless to say, I was so stunned I was in tears. I count not believe that I was chosen,” she said when asked about receiving the news of her selection. In May of 2014, Aneek and the other selected U.S. teachers traveled to San Francisco to meet their Japanese counterparts. This two-week conference allowed the delegates to work collaboratively by areas of interest and grade levels. She is currently working with a Japanese teacher on the subject of wind power. They will bring technology into the classroom by having their students Skype to collaborate on wind turbine designs which will culminate at the end of the 2014/2015 school year with the two classes Skyping during a wind turbine challenge. “My students are already trying to learn Japanese so that they can communicate with the other students as they learn about natural resources and sustainability in on another’s countries,” said Aneek. The U.S. and Japanese teachers will meet again to collaborate in person during the June study tour and joint conference.
Service Learning was a primary focus of the joint May conference. Aneek commented, “I felt like I was a pro in this area because of my work with MEEC.” Her students have been doing Service Learning for three years in combination with MEEC’s YELC conferences and she credits those opportunities for her students being well prepared to share ideas collaboratively with the students they are meeting for the first time. “This is such an exciting venture to be on, and I am so proud to be an ambassador for the U.S. and for Education for Sustainable Development!” Aneek said, “I truly felt that if I had not worked with MEEC for these years I would have never been able to do these amazing service learning projects with my students, and I feel that those experiences are what helped me get selected as a Fulbright teacher.”