Middlesbrough College Teacher Misses Out On $1 Million Prize

16 March 2015, 06:10

Dr. Richard Spencer from Middlesbrough College has missed out on the $1 million Varkey Gems Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

He travelled to Dubai for an award ceremony on Sunday night (March 15th), after being named on a shortlist of just 10 people from across the world.

He was the only teacher from Britain to be included on that list, and was commended for his success in making science accessible, with an active style of teaching that includes using song and dance.

The prize was awarded to Nancie Atwell, from Maine in the US, who has said she will donate the full award to the Center for Teaching and Learning, a non-profit school she founded in Maine in 1990.

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UPDATED 13th February 2015

A teacher from County Durham's been picked from 5,000 nominations to be in line for a $1 million prize.

Richard Spencer, from Middlesbrough College, is in line to win the first ever Varkey Gems Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

The winner is due to be revealed at a ceremony held at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai next month.

Biology teacher Dr Spencer said he was "honoured'' to have been shortlisted.

It was announced at the end of last year that Dr Spencer was one of two UK teachers to make the longlist of 50 potential winners.

Dr Spencer said he had learnt he had made the final 10 during a visit with two other finalists to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican last week.

The three had been invited to meet the Pope to tell him about their experiences in teaching.

He said he had been with fellow prize candidate Stephen Ritz from the Bronx, New York, when they were informed they were both in the final 10.

Dr Spencer said:
"We looked at each other and our jaws hit the ground.

It was a real 'wow' moment.''

I felt like I'd won a prize going to the Vatican, especially because I'm Catholic as well.''

Dr Spencer trained as a secondary school biology teacher after completing a PhD in Molecular Biology and becoming a post-doctoral reseacher.

He has won a number of awards for science teaching, trains science teachers internationally and takes part in conferences and workshops.

As part of his daily teaching life, he uses techniques such as experiments, videos, models, role play, games, poems, songs and dance to make lessons interesting and memorable for pupils.

The other nine finalists are drawn from around the world, including the USA, Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Kenya, Cambodia and Malaysia.

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will get one million US dollars (around £630,000) paid over 10 years, and will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Gems Foundation, attending events and speaking about their work.

But they will also be required to remain working as a classroom teacher for at least five years as a condition of winning the award.

The Foundation said it had set up the award as part of a bid to improve the status of the teaching profession.

Varkey Foundation founder Sunny Varkey said:
"The huge global support we have received for this prize is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives.

We introduced the prize in order to return teachers to their rightful position - belonging to one of the most respected professions in society.

The many applications prove that the prize is not only about money; it's also about unearthing thousands of stories of inspiration''

Former US president Bill Clinton, honorary chairman of the Foundation, said: "Attracting the best people to teaching, developing and supporting their skills, and holding our teachers in high regard - all are critically important to achieve excellence, both in teaching and learning.''

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UPDATED 8th December 2014

A teacher from County Durham's been picked from 5,000 nominations to be in line for a $1 million prize.

Richard Spencer from Middlesbrough College has been named on a long list of 50 teachers to be in line to win the first Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

It recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to teaching.

He was selected from over 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries including the UK, the United States, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, India, Afghanistan and Australia.

The entries have been whittled down to a final 50 candidates from 26 nations, with the winner due to be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March.

Dr Spencer trained as a secondary school biology teacher after completing a PhD in Molecular Biology and becoming a post-doctoral reseacher.

He has won a number of awards for science teaching, trains science teachers internationally and takes part in conferences and workshops.

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will get one million US dollars (around £630,000) paid over 10 years, and will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey GEMS Foundation, attending events and speaking about their work.

But they will also be required to remain working as a classroom teacher for at least five years as a condition of winning the award.

Working teachers who teach pupils who are in compulsory schooling, or below the age of 18, were eligible to apply, as were heads who also teach. The prize was open to teachers in every country in the world.

The Foundation said it had set up the award as part of a bid to improve the status of the teaching profession.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, said:
"The thousands of applications we received from all around the world is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. We introduced the prize this year in order to return teachers to their rightful position as the one of the most respected professions in society.

The prize is not only about money; it's also about unearthing thousands of stories of inspiration as the many applications prove.''

Former US president Bill Clinton, honorary chairman of the Foundation, said:
"Attracting the best people to teaching, developing and supporting their skills, and holding our teachers in high regard - all are critically important to achieve excellence, both in teaching and learning.''
 

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