Getting students excited about science: Q&A with Teacher Pledge alum Maya Bhadkamkar

The UW–Madison School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge is dedicated to strengthening and diversifying Wisconsin’s teacher workforce. It pays the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, testing, and licensing costs for all teacher education students who “pledge” to teach for three or four years at a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school in Wisconsin after they graduate.

To date, 556 students have taken the Teacher Pledge — and 226 Pledge alumni are already in classrooms and teaching in 65 school districts across Wisconsin.

To learn just a bit more about the Teacher Pledge and its impact, the School of Education’s communications team reached out to Pledge alumni to get their thoughts.

Maya Bhadkamkar received an MS in Curriculum and Instruction with certification in secondary science education from the School of Education in 2022. She also earned an undergraduate degree from UW–Madison in genetics. Today, she is teaching sixth grade math and science at Jack Young Middle School in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

How did you end up pursuing your master’s degree in order to become a teacher? After I received my undergrad degree in genetics, I worked in a lab that studied degenerative retinal diseases. I ultimately left the lab to pursue teaching because I have always wanted to work with kids.

What role did the Teacher Pledge play in your decision to pursue becoming a teacher?  The Teacher Pledge definitely influenced my decision to become a teacher because I knew I could pursue the career without going into debt, which played a big role in my decision. The Teacher Pledge made it easier for me to become a teacher because I was able to focus on my skills as a teacher and not be constantly worried about financing it. 

What do you like most about being a teacher? The relationships I have formed with students and getting students excited about science. 

Do you feel like you are making a difference in the classroom? I do feel like I am making a difference! I love when my kids are asking great questions about science and are really engaged with what we are doing. 

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