Anita Bauknecht posses with Sibusiso Shiba, the coordinator for all water projects of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland.

Bay Village teacher Anita Bauknecht was named Educator of the Year at the Thirst Project’s inaugural Legacy Summit in Malibu, California, in July.

“I’m really proud and pleased to be given that honor, but the honor belongs to the entire community,” said Bauknecht, who has taught family and consumer science at Bay Village High School for 21 years. “I think what’s more meaningful is to see the eyes of the children and the communities who are impacted by the Thirst Project.”

Over the course of three years, Bauknecht coordinated with Bay Middle and Westerly Elementary schools to run fundraisers at Chipotle, selling T-shirts, developing class challenges and coordinating campaigns to motivate local businesses to help their cause. In total, the effort raised $28,500 to build a water well in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) that would provide safe drinking water.

“She knows what she’s doing and she always tried to help us and come up with new ideas to keep us going,” said Noah Lowery, a senior at Bay Village High School and co-chair of the Key Club.

The Thirst Project was founded in 2008 by seven college students in California to help provide clean drinking water to communities without it.

Since then, the organization has helped more than 500,000 students learn about the global water crisis, raising $10 million to fight the growing problem. The money helped fund projects such as hand-pump wells and constructing home bio-sand water filters for communities in Colombia, India, Uganda and Kenya.

Giving communities in need of clean water access to water wells would start alleviating diseases that stem from unsafe drinking conditions.

Bauknecht said the Key Club will continue to work with the Thirst Project.

“It’s important because it’s a human right, to have clean water and live a full life,” Bauknecht said. “It’s important for kids to understand that what we have going on here in our small community is not what it’s like for others in other countries.”

Contact this reporter at or 440-871-5797.

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