Abeda Khanam


Abeda Khanam has been a biology teacher at Robert F. Wagner High School for 20 years. “Kids see me as someone who looks at science as a universal language,” she explains. She also serves as the faculty advisor for the school’s chapter of the National Honors Society. She further founded and serves as the faculty advisor of both the diversity and garden club. Two years ago, Khanam created a program that matches high-achieving students with students that need academic support based on emotional intelligence and personality traits (as opposed to traditional programs that pair high and low scorers). Khanam is also a teacher leader with the American Federation of Teachers, a chaplain with the New York State Chaplain Task Force, a Mental Health First Aid trainer collaborating with the ThriveNYC initiative, and a board member of the LIC Roots Community Garden. “In 2015, when the Daily News named me a Hometown Hero in Education, it emboldened me to work directly with the community in capacities such as teacher leader, mental health advocate, and parental engagement columnist. Even though I was born in a village, my village is now Jamaica Queens, and I must serve my village if I am to serve God. The lessons I have learned with my family—including the joys as well as the heartbreaks—I offer to my community. For a collection of resilient families in resilient communities make a great nation. After all, isn’t the welfare of the country the true concern of the patriot?”