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
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
- 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
- Developing and sharing innovative thought leadership that has
improved access to quality teaching and education for children of all
- Accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide unique and distinguished models of excellence for the teaching profession.