Maryland High School Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize - The Shade Room

Maryland High School Teacher Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

Teachers don’t typically get the praise they deserve, but one Maryland teacher can now say otherwise! Keishia Thorpe, who teaches 12th grade English, recently won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize. According to The Washington Post, this prize is “the biggest such award for educators in the world.” Keishia was selected as the winner from a pool of more than 8,000 educators across 121 countries. She plans to use the money to continue serving students and immigrant families.

“Education is a human right, and all children should be entitled to have access to it,” Keishia said during a ceremony streamed online. “So this recognition is not just about me, but about all the dreamers who work so hard and dare to dream of ending generational poverty.”

Keishia’s Dedication To Students

Keishia teaches at International High School, which is part of Prince George’s County public school system. The school is located in Langley Park with Keishia serving mostly immigrant and refugee students. She joined their staff in 2018 and was put in charge of shaking up the 12-grade English curriculum. Per her words, she added “a global perspective and a culturally responsive lens.”

Keishia also lends her time to students who need help with college applications and obtaining scholarships. Between 2018-2019, the award-winning teacher helped students win nearly $6.5 million in scholarships towards 11 different colleges.

She began her teaching career more than 15 years ago, per reports. She and her sister co-founded a nonprofit organization called U.S. Elite International Track and Field. It provides athletes with financially-challenged backgrounds with scholarships in order to compete internationally. She also established a separate annual scholarship and athletic convention to help student-athletes learn about recruitment and college acceptance from coaches and admission officials.

“Every child needs a champion, an adult who will never ever give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the very best they can be,” Thorpe said. “This is why teachers will always matter. Teachers matter.”

Why Teaching? 

Like her students, Keishia hails from an immigrant background. She was born in Jamaica and raised by her grandmother, before coming to the United States on a track and field scholarship. She graduated from Howard University as a pre-law and English major in 2003, but ultimately decided to go into teaching.

“Every child needs a champion, an adult who will never, ever give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the very best they can possibly be,” Keishia said. And this is exactly why teachers will always matter. Teachers matter.”

Varkey Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have presented the Global Prize Award to educators since 2015. Keishia is the second American to win the prize.

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