By Ben Lang, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2022 — Nejla Shaheen is the eighth-grade Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) instructor at Bio-Med Science Academy. AFNR is a CTE course, so it’s not a traditional science class. It introduces students to the agricultural field and what it’s like. This is Shaheen’s second year of working at Bio-Med.

Shaheen graduated from McKinley Senior High School in Canton in 2015. While in high school, she took college classes through a program at Stark State University called Early College. This allowed her to graduate with her associate degree in arts and sciences right out of high school.

“[Bio-Med] feels like a family, and it feels like an awesome community.”

Neijla Shaheen, the eigth-grade Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources instructor at Bio-Med.

After graduating from high school, Shaheen went to Kent State University (KSU) to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Health in 2017.

While working on her bachelor’s degree, Shaheen worked at a local health department. She initially set traps for mosquitoes around the Canton area and later took mosquito counts to make sure the population stayed consistent. She would also send samples to the Ohio Department of Health, so they could ensure that the mosquitoes weren’t carrying any harmful diseases.

She later switched to a different position, where she worked in sanitation as a health inspector.

Shaheen’s journey to Bio-Med started during COVID-19. Her job at the health department had taken a turn, and it was not what she wanted to do anymore.

Shaheen also has a Shiba Inu named Mish Mush. Mish Mush means “apricot” in Arabic. Photo provided by Shaheen.

Shaheen said, “COVID sucked for working in the health department. It was not fun. I kind of went from doing my day-to-day job of being a health inspector and going and working with people to kind of being the bad guy.”

She made an appointment with her adviser at KSU, and they discussed what Shaheen might like to do. She gave the advisor ideas of her interests. It just so happened that Shaheen’s advisor had a position on Bio-Med’s board, and she was asked to join Bio-Med because of that. 

Shaheen finally started teaching at Bio-Med about halfway through the 2021-2022 school year. 

Her favorite thing about Bio-Med was that, “It feels like a family, and it feels like an awesome community.”

Shaheen has done a variety of projects at Bio-Med, but her favorite was an assignment where students were given a plant. They then had to research the plant. After that, they had to outline the different parts of the plant and what it did on multiple layers of shower curtain. When they were stacked, it made a full view of the entire plant. 

“I was a little nervous at the beginning, but the way that the final product looked was pretty sweet,” said Shaheen.

In the future, she would like to bring more guest speakers in from the outside and get more people involved in the class.

“I think it’d be really cool to kind of now move more into the community and see if I can get people to come in. Cause I feel like that’s the best way to learn — see people that are actually doing,” Shaheen said. 

Outside of school, she enjoys reading, making crafts with her Cricut, and spending time with her friends and family. 

Some of the people that Shaheen is closest to are her little sister, Eliana, her little brother, Noah, and her grandma. 

She wants to continue teaching in the future, and she doesn’t think that will change. 

“Right now teaching is making me super happy and is super fun, and I hope I don’t lose that happiness or that fun,” she said.

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