Launched at the Global Education & Skills Forum last year, the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize saw over 7000 applications and nominations from over 127 countries.
The Varkey Foundation announced the to 10 finalists who will be joining us in Dubai for the first ever Global Teacher Prize award ceremony on the 15th of March 2015.
Click on the videos below to learn a bit more about these inspiring educators.
1. Nancie Atwell, USA
Nancie has pioneered teaching literature as a reading-writing workshop. Her love of reading comes from her time in hospital as a child with rheumatic fever. Students choose the subjects they write about and the books they read. Each year her 8th grade students read on average forty books representing fourteen genres (the national average is less than ten books).
Nancie has published a number of highly-acclaimed books on her teaching methods and has received several prestigious awards, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of New Hampshire.
In 1990 she founded the Center for Teaching and Learning, a non-profit demonstration school in Maine that boasts a library in every room, offering its students tens of thousands of books.
2. Kiran Bir Sethi, India
In 2001 Kiran set up the Riverside School in India after discovering that modern education places put insufficient emphasis on imagination, emotional well-being and choice. Her school has pioneered a simplified Design Thinking approach – a methodology that leads students to understand empathetically rather than just intellectually, and puts academic learning into a real-world context.
Her Riverside School has also had an effect on the wider community through the ‘aProCh’ (a Protagonist in every Child) program, which is a city project promoting the celebration of childhood. Many schools in India have been inspired by this initiative, and aProCh has supported the implementation of these programs in five cities across the country, impacting over 50,000 children since 2007.
3. Guy Etienne, Haiti
Guy heads the College Catts Pressior in Port-au-Prince – a school that, over the years, has become a benchmark for quality in the Haitian educational community. His mission consists of demonstrating how a rigorous scientific education can serve the needs of the wider community and advance the development of Haitian society overall.
College Catts Pressior approach has been led by Guy and is based around teaching that focuses on the development of a core set of skills: self-confidence, an inquisitive mind, teamwork and a commitment to excellence.
Guy has designed a TV programme about frugal science showing educators how to teach science with resources that are readily available in nature.
4. Jacque Kahura, Kenya
Teaching in a rural primary school in Kenya, Jacque strives to create a better learning environment for children, in particular for disadvantaged pupils. Jacque comes from a family of teachers and had an interest in teaching from a young age. Jacque has been reaching out to hundreds of teachers through newsletters and by organizing conferences and meetings.
She has been running a number of initiatives that provide developmental and academic support to hundreds of pupils and teachers in her wider community – ranging from the provision of school furniture, uniforms and sanitary facilities to HIV-related coaching, weekend and holiday tuition, job-readiness training and introducing the wider community to cultural diversity.
5. Phalla Neang, Cambodia
Phalla has worked as a teacher, school director and country-wide coordinator for the Education for Blind program in Cambodia for over 20 years. In her teaching, Phalla has pioneered approaches to learning in modalities that are more natural for the blind. She aims to build learning through understanding, memory and confidence. Her work has made a significant difference to the perception of blind people in Cambodian society.
If awarded the Prize, Phalla would use the funds to expand Krousar Thmey’s Education for Blind program. She would train more teachers, so that it can serve not just eleven but all 25 provinces of Cambodia, and buy more Braille printing machines.
6. Stephen Ritz, USA
Stephen teaches in Public School 55 in New York City’s South Bronx, the poorest Congressional District in America. He established a food production business at the South Bronx School which helps achieve food security and urban renewal while teaching students key skills at the same time.
The new school culture creates a place where people want to work and learn, and local crime has fallen significantly. Targeted daily attendance is up from 40% to 93%, with the school achieving 100% passing rates on standardised tests, increased graduation rates, and multi-year jumps on standardised tests in reading and math with multiple cohorts.
Stephen’s TED talk ‘Growing our Way into a New Economy’ has been featured in Teach for America training programs.
7. Azizullah Royesh, Afghanistan
Aziz overcame incredible odds to educate himself and fellow Afghan refugees, setting up several schools. He fled Afghanistan for the second time in 1994 & then established the Marefat School for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, which moved back to Kabul when the Taliban fell in 2001. In order to help rebuild his country he knew he would need to start with the Afghan education system with a focus on civic education and female empowerment.
In 2009 several female students from Marefat School launched a protest against the new Shia Family Law because it violated women’s rights and legalised marital rape. This action led to a call for Aziz’s execution and an attempt to burn down the school, requiring the Ministry of the Interior to protect it with its Special Police Unit. When the school reopened three days later, more than 95% of the students, accompanied by their parents, attended school, demonstrating the support of the community for the school.
8. Madenjit Singh, Indonesia
Madenjit is a teacher and social entrepreneur who started by launching a free school in his home. By the end of 2014 his SOLS 24/7 organisation had grown to 185 schools in 5 countries, offering a free comprehensive two-year training and boarding program providing life skills for disadvantaged youths.
He aims to simplify every subject, he then designed his own system for teaching almost any student of any age how to read, write, speak and understand basic English in 3 to 6 months. More than 100,000 youths have graduated from SOLS 24/7 schools.
9. Richard Spencer, United Kingdom
Richard’s realised early on he has a gift for making science accessible through an engaging variety of methods including song and dance. He has won several awards including Salter Prize for Teaching Chemistry and two national STAR awards (Further Education Teacher of The Year and Outstanding Subject Learning Coach). His approach to teaching 16- to 18-year-olds A-level biology at Middlesbrough College in Billingham involves as much variety as possible to make lessons interesting, engaging and memorable.
He has contributed to a long list of national and international conferences and teacher training workshops. In addition he has also provided numerous online resources for teachers as well as award-winning e-learning courses for students and locally he has taken part in several initiatives that aim to generate enthusiasm for science in school children.
10. Naomi Volain, USA
Naomi teaches science at a diversely-populated inner-city high school. Her hands-on, highly interactive classes focus on environmental literacy and outdoor education, including many field trips and participation in scientific research programs. Naomi applied to become the first teacher in space and is now part of NASA Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers program. She has since gone on to use NASA Lunar/Meteorite Samples in her lessons.