A happy smile and a cup of tea in her hand, Ms. Veena’s greeting tells you how good a teacher she is and of her humility. What lies underneath is steely determination and a strong sense of purpose for herself, her students, and her discipline.
With 20 years of transnational teaching experience across India, Australia and UAE, Ms. Veena has been felicitated with the 2022 Australian Prime Minister’s Prize in Excellence in Science Teaching and has been awarded Teacher of the year by DATTA Australia in 2017. She is presently the Head of Technology, Viewbank College in Melbourne, Australia.
Ms. Veena in Australia – student, teacher, mentor
When she moved to Australia in 2000, Ms. Veena wanted to progress on her chosen path as a teacher with a higher qualification. She registered with Deakin University for a Master’s in Education, and it exposed her to a fresh perspective and a new world of academia and methodology. She infuses this approach in her students.
As STEAM projects coordinator she bridges curriculum and pedagogy and provides new platforms for her students to engage with technology. She uses 3D printing and innovation to make applied science fun and enjoyable for students who can use it ahead in any industry professionally. She is systematically working on bending the gender ratio for the number of students in STEAM courses.
Through the Young Person’s Plan for the Planet program, a STEM-based enterprise development program Ms. Veena engages her students to create a global impact by working on sustainable goals.
She spearheads Superstars of STEM, a platform to make science inspirational with ambassadors from the community who present in public forums and schools. She guides students who participate in Swinburne Youth Space Innovation Challenge to create the best experiments to launch into space with the winning project sent to International Space Station.
Beyond teaching Ms. Veena mentors her students and has been successful in getting more of her students into engineering and technology at university level, especially women.
Genesis on Indian shores
Born into a family immersed in academia, Ms. Veena credits her father, of Physics discipline for having removed her apprehension of technology and her mother, a teacher herself for passing on a flair for teaching to her. Her first students were of low socio-economic groups in Mumbai whom she used to teach coding using BASIC. She has equipped the schools with computers and this initiative of enabling technology in learning she carries on still. Her career in teaching was an offshoot of this venture in which she discovered her flair and started training and working in Mumbai.
In India she how works through the Kotak education Foundation and is enthusiastic about achieving a partnership in knowledge between Australia and India for the benefit of the under-privileged for a sustainable livelihood. She aims at creating a platform of engagement between students of both countries.
Whenever she is on home turf, she engages her time and efforts for the benefit of Indian students, the place where she started.
Australia-India partnership in knowledge and innovation
Ms. Veena is very active in the bi-lateral space working on connecting Australia and India as much as possible in the field of education by reaching out to people who are active in the sector such as people of the AIBC and others.
“Everyone is keen, and they have a positive attitude towards increasing partnership with India as much as possible. I would like to take this forward while continuing my association with Kotak Education Foundation which gives me the scope to work. The idea that is central to me working for this is to create a space where Australian and Indian students can cannot at a school level.”
As a teacher, Ms. Veena Nair is making study relevant and beneficial to student’s lives directly while encouraging them to take up challenges of emerging industry opportunities. She integrates her humanitarian goals with her work-roles, be it bending the gender ratio in science or working on UN Sustainable Development Goals or connecting students with industry and enterprise to develop solutions both locally and globally.
Juggling her many engagements and roles, this inspiring teacher believes in the mantra – ‘one day at a time’ and the power of taking a break.