August 20, 2018

Exploration, Discovery, and Dogs

Faculty in Focus: Lauren Arshad

Our new Science Specialist took a rather circuitous route to travel the relatively short distance from Topanga Canyon — where she was born — to Los Encinos School.

photo of Lauren and her husband, Belal.

Lauren and her husband, Belal.

First, Lauren Arshad née Young attended UC Santa Barbara where she began tutoring math to high schoolers on the side.  It was her first taste of teaching and she was hooked.  Her next stop was Salvador, Brazil where she taught English for a few years before returning to L.A. to work as a Science Lab Assistant at St. James School.  When the Science Teacher position opened up there, she was ready for it.  Over the next six years, Lauren reinvigorated the program and introduced robotics and coding to the curriculum.  So at this point, she makes the move to the LES science lab, right?  Not quite yet.

Lauren’s next stop was Berlin, Germany where she not only found rewarding work at an elementary school and makerspace lab, but her future husband as well!  “Actually, our dogs are responsible for the marriage,” she said, laughing, because both she and Belal were walking them on that fateful day in the Friedrichshain neighborhood when they met.  They soon moved to Los Angeles together and the wedding was held on a boat in Marina del Rey! They celebrated their first anniversary this past July.

photo of dogs

Lauren’s dog, Rio (a Hungarian Vizsla); and Belal’s dog, Ares.

Ms. Lauren credits her boundless curiosity for her interest in STEAM education (Science•Technology•Engineering•Arts•Math), which is what propelled her back to Southern California and a non-profit called Genesis Steam.  Genesis serves LAUSD students at the Marciano Art Foundation while also bringing quality STEAM education to underserved communities in areas such as Boyle Heights, the Vermont Corridor, and Watts.  But a classroom and a school community is where she truly thrives, so when she heard of the Science Specialist position opening up here at LES, she jumped at it, which finally brings us to the present day!

photo of the Arshad and Young families on the wedding day.

The Arshad and Young families on the wedding day.

When asked what draws her to science, specifically, she said, “I love asking questions and seeking to understand the world around us, yet with a certain humility.”  She then explained, “The humility comes from the realization that what we know today may become outdated in the future.  So we continue to question, and that pursuit of understanding resonates so well with me.  Plus, it’s just plain fun!”

Ms. Lauren’s interests go beyond the classroom.  She said she loves to travel and learn about different people, places, and cultures.  She’s taken a drive through western Europe (with her dog, Rio), as well as a trip to the mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan. She’s now planning a big family trip to Pakistan, where her in-laws are originally from.

photo of Mayan ruins courtesy motleypixel (labeled for reuse).

Mayan ruins.

She also likes watching documentary films and reading novels that are set in the locations she plans to visit.  This summer, Ms. Lauren traveled to the Yucatan region of Mexico.  The Mayan ruins she visited were particularly interesting to her because she taught a unit on the Mayans the previous year in Germany and was now able to see them first-hand.  She also jumped from a very high ledge into one of the crystal clear cenotes (freshwater pools that are connected to one another through underground channels), and she said it took some serious courage, but felt amazing.

photo of the view before jumping into a cenote in Mexico.

The view before jumping
into a cenote in Mexico.

Now that she’s getting settled in at LES, Ms. Lauren plans to focus on sharing her love of curiosity, or as she put it, “Getting the students to feel empowered to use science as a tool for discovery.”

Ms. Lauren is also excited to share the news that she and Belal are expecting their first child at the end of January! The Los Encinos School family is growing!

Ms. Arshad’s “Shelfie”

Click here to see more Faculty in Focus.

faculty in focus logo