The Varkey Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education in Dubai, has awarded its inaugural Global Teacher Prize to Nancie Atwell, a teacher at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb, Maine.
Created to recognize an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, the prize includes a $1 million cash award to be paid over ten years. Selected from among ten finalists by a committee that included Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg; Geoffrey Canada, former president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone; Carina Wong, deputy director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's College-Ready Education program; and Wendy Kopp, co-founder and CEO of Teach For All and founder and former CEO of Teach For America, Atwell, a teacher since 1973, founded the Center for Teaching and Learning in 1990 as a nonprofit demonstration school that aims to develop and disseminate effective classroom practices. In addition to teaching English as a writing-reading workshop to middle school students, Atwell has written nine books and conducts seminars for teachers about the school's teaching methods.
Presented at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2015 in Dubai, the award stipulates that the recipient remain a classroom teacher for at least five years while serving as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending events, and speaking at public forums to help enhance the prestige of the teaching profession. "Attracting the best people to teaching, developing and supporting their skills, and holding them in high regard would lift learning levels all around the world," said former President Bill Clinton, the Varkey Foundation's honorary chair.
"I love my teaching life — the intellectual, social, and personal challenges of working with young people and the satisfaction of developing methods that transform their lives and give them perspective on the lives of others," said Atwell. "I am grateful to the Varkey Foundation for shining a light on teaching as a powerful profession, one of fulfillment, creativity, and lasting worth."