Sealth teacher finalist for $1 million teaching prize

Sealth teacher finalist for $1 million teaching prize
Posted on 12/09/2014
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Noah Zeichner, who teaches Global Leadership, American Government and Theory of Knowledge at Chief Sealth International High School, is one of only 50 teachers worldwide named a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize. The prize recognizes “one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession” and comes with a $1 million award.

The prize money is given out over 10 years, and the winner must continue working as a teacher for at least five years.

“It is an incredible honor to be nominated for the Global Teacher Prize," Zeichner said. "I know that I am representing many colleagues that have also gone above and beyond for their students and for the teaching profession.”

The Global Teacher prize is one way in which the Varkey GEMS foundation is working to improve the status of teachers worldwide. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education, a Dubai-based private company that runs schools around the world. Former President Bill Clinton is the honorary chairman of the foundation.

With the Global Teacher Prize, the foundation hopes to create a Nobel Prize of education. In its announcement of the 50 finalists, the foundation said: “By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work that millions of teachers do all over the world.”

The 50 finalists were culled from more than 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries from around the world including the US, UK, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, India, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina Mexico and Jordan. The finalists come from 26 countries and include two Washington teachers: Zeichner and Jeff Charbonneau of Zillah High School. The winner will be announced in Dubai on March 16, 2015 at the Global Education and Skills Forum.

Zeichner brings a worldwide perspective to his teaching, and he has been recognized for this work in the past. He was the recipient of the World Affairs Council of Seattle’s 2013-14 World Educator Award. For the past four years, he coordinated a student-led, school-wide festival called World Water Week. From 2011-2014 he served as a Teacherpreneur with the Center for Teaching Quality, teaching part time while supporting CTQ’s global teacher leadership initiatives. He has traveled extensively, sometimes with students. Most recently, Zeichner co-facilitated the first annual Global Leadership Summer Institute for Teachers, a weeklong workshop on creating a democratic classroom, and is currently planning the first annual Washington State Global Issues Network Conference (an international youth-led event to be held in March 2015).

Judges’ criteria for the prize included:

  • Recognition of a teacher's achievements in the classroom and beyond from pupils, colleagues, head-teachers or members of the wider community.
  • Employing innovative and effective instructional practices and achieving demonstrable student learning outcomes in the classroom.
  • Contributing to public debates on raising the bar of the teaching profession, whether through writing articles, blogs, media participation, social media campaigns, events or conferences.
  • Encouraging others to join the teaching profession.
  • Preparing children to be global citizens in a world where they will encounter people from many different religions, cultures and nationalities.
  • Developing and sharing innovative thought leadership that has improved access to quality teaching and education for children of all backgrounds.
  • Accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide unique and distinguished models of excellence for the teaching profession.
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