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Full Name
Naveen Cunha
School/Organization
Bryan Independent School District
Job Title
8th grade robotics teacher, STEM academy coordinator
State
Subject Area
Current Role
Program Affiliation: Other
Bryan Independent School District
Bio

I am Indian in origin.  I grew up overseas going to school in India Saudi Arabia, high school in England and college in Texas.  I received a BS in Geology and am certified in Earth and Physical Science, Computer Science, and Technology Education.  I taught 5th and 6th grade math and science for 15 years.  During that time, I received the Presidential Award for Science Teaching.  I was a finalist for NASA's educator astronaut program and served a two-year fellowship with NASA's office of education.  I spent a year as a middle school science specialist at an education service center before returning to the classroom teaching engineering and robotics and starting our district's STEM academy.


Featured Member Story
Starting off at the intermediate school level was the perfect stage to get my feet wet. It served as a foundation of learning to interact with young minds. Obtaining a degree in geology entrenched my belief in the effectiveness of hands-on learning utilizing technology. My interests in Earth and Space Science pushed me to seek partnerships and collaborations with local and state organizations. Funding for projects in a classroom in a well-off district was scarce and pushed me to seek awards and competitions that supported me in the direction I wanted to steer our classes.

Doing so not only provided money to fund projects but introduced me to leaders in education at all levels. Under the mentorship of leaders and colleagues, I increased my participation in organizations and conferences. These experiences resulted in my selection as a Presidential Awardee for Science Teaching and further exposure to leaders in education throughout the country. During my time in Washington DC for the ceremonies, I was introduced to the Albert Einstein Distinguished Education Fellowship. In the immediate years to follow, I was a finalist to the Educator Astronaut program and was chosen by NASA as an Einstein Fellow working with other finalists throughout the country. My networking now included leaders, scientists, and professionals in federal agencies.

Post fellowship, I tried my hand as a science specialist in training teachers, but felt my experiences and talents were better served in the classroom. I was drawn to a neighboring school district with the plan to start a STEM academy the following year. With the support and confidence in my credentials by district leaders, the program provided great options for students in our district. Our successful participation in local, state, national and international competitions has yielded us connections, collaborations, and interest which grows and develops every year. None of this would have been possible without the support of my family. They have enjoyed the journey and learned along the way.

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