For Hina Pandey the formula was simple, “I know I am passionate about science and science education because it has great potential to meet world needs involving hunger, the environment, medicine, and agriculture.” Yet even knowing that constant in her life, the variable of where she would share her passion had to be solved. That was solved by the hand of God. “I am a strong believer in God and believe he has a plan for me. Having a Catholic education background - one that had a tremendous effect on me - and then having the opportunity to work in Catholic education. I believe it has all been through the hand of God.”
Decorated with a Masters in Analytical and Medicinal Chemistry, a Masters in Environmental Chemistry, a California Teaching Credential, Computational Modeling and Simulation Training, and years of teaching experience, she found her home at Central Catholic nine years ago progressing to her current position as STEM Coordinator and the Science Chair. Central Catholic offers a small school environment where teachers truly care for students and not just the learning, a fact that Hina confirms. “I teach for students to develop self-confidence in their future, to become productive, happy citizens, and to possess an awareness of the wide scope of science.” With a high level of rigor and a strong integration of subject matter Hina Pandey’s classroom is abuzz with models, robotics projects, and findings from regular and extensive, open ended (for the purpose of scientific exploration) and guided labs.
But if the world of bubbling beakers and complicated equations sends you running, Hina reassures, “My expectations are clear and my students are well-informed. I establish a routine and there is a clear pattern of learning. It is most important that students feel secure and respected not only for who they are but where they are in their academic progress.” But when the classroom lights dim and Hina closes the door it’s not the equation she finds most compelling, it is the opportunity to guide students towards their future.
She recalls a student who did very well in the College Preparatory level courses, but Hina saw the dedication and commitment necessary for the girl to move on to the Honors level. “She didn't feel at the time that she could handle the pressure of the Honors schedule, but several years later while at the university I received an email from her sharing that she had challenged herself to the rigor of university honors science coursework and felt very well prepared. That’s what happens at Central Catholic - teachers make connections with students and help them connect with their future”.