Every day, teachers have a profound impact on their students’ lives, and their influence and the memories of their impact endure long after the school year ends. Over the years, teaching has become an even more fulfilling experience for Bronx science educator, Alejandro Mundo, as he continues to make a positive impact on both the local community and his international students.
Fernandez and his peers took what they had learned and applied it outside their science classroom, creating the Mundology Club, a space dedicated to STEM. They went on science-related trips, planted trees, visited New York City’s museums, studied rocks at parks and interacted with scientists.
One of Mr. Mundo’s most memorable career achievements has been when his students participated on a NASA Perseverance mission’s project of sending their names to the red planet through a stenciled chip. This event gave a STEM awakening and inspiration to his students as well as reach the attention of the media. “I would not have had this opportunity in my country, but our teacher made that possible,” says former student Ronald Sánchez, who is from El Salvador and adds on the importance of representation, “It’s really important for us Latinos and students of color to get into these opportunities because we can do much more as well as lead the way.”
During the pandemic, Mr. Mundo’s students had the opportunity to interact with astronauts from the International Space Station, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei, from Expedition 65. This opportunity created a personal connection for his predominantly Latino students and the historic space mission. It also engaged the students in science—a field that is still underrepresented when it comes to Latinos, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.
“This event motivated me to continue to learn English and science to better understand what NASA is doing as well as better appreciate their work and missions. Latina girls like me should have more of these opportunities because it motivates us to consider similar STEM careers and makes us feel that we can also be part of these missions,” says student Bresmaurie Mendez Cuevas.
Alejandro continues to thrive as a scientist and educator as he’s part of Columbia’s Climate School’s RET program where he contributes with climate investigations on an Arctic and Antarctic project under Margie Turrin’s mentorship at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. This project focuses on the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and their effect on ocean currents and how poles manage Earth’s climate systems. “Our program connects exceptional educators to world-class scientists working at the forefront of Climate Change Research. Columbia’s Climate School works to connect communities and policy makers with leading science to make informed decisions around climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Through this program, Alejandro can continue to bring community-facing science education back to his classroom,” says director and research scientist, Dr. Joshua Fisher.
As we take a moment to pause and appreciate all educators during this teacher appreciation month, we can testify that Alejandro Mundo’s teachings have been significant and impactful at Kingsbridge International High School and the local Bronx community. We can assure that wherever Mr. Mundo leads, he will continue to inspire the current and future generations on Earth, space, and climate education, as well as continue creating impactful science research and pedagogical experiences. Although every educator deserves recognition, this time we humbly and proudly recognize Mr. Mundo’s life and accomplishments during this Teacher Appreciation time.