US teachers in running for $1m 'Nobel Prize for teaching'

Two US teachers have made the final cut to win a $1 million global teaching prize in recognition of their work in the classroom.

Richard Vaughan

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Joe Fatheree, a media production teacher at Effingham High School in Illinois, and Michael Soskil, who teaches math at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, are among a shortlist of 10 hopefuls vying for this year’s Global Teacher Prize.

The final list was chosen from 8,000 nominations and applications from 148 countries around the world, all of whom were vying for the $1m award, dubbed the “Nobel Prize for teaching”.

The two US representatives will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s inaugural winner Nancie Atwell, who won the prize for her work teaching literature and literacy.

Mr Fatheree has taught for 25 years and was picked from the thousands of hopefuls for his work engaging students in his subject matter by using a range of techniques from hip-hop music to drone technology.

The former Illinois teacher of the year believes using project-based learning to encourage his students.

Mr Soskil believes students need meaningful emotional connections to learn and utilizes distance learning projects to engage his students. Among his many projects, he and his students created videos to teach math to Kenyan students, who in turn taught his class Swahili.

Meanwhile, Robin Chaurasiya, a former US Air Force lieutenant, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Seattle, has been shortlisted for her work in Mumbai, India. Her school, Kranti, empowers marginalized girls from Mumbai's red-light areas to become agents of social change.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, which is behind the prize, said: “I want to congratulate Joe Fatheree and Michael Soskil, along with Robin Chaurasiya, for being selected as top ten finalists from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers.

“I hope their stories will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the US and throughout the world every day.”

Commenting on the final shortlist, UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon added: “I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value.

“I applaud the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which recognizes their worth.”


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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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