English teacher Keishia Thorpe was selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications worldwide for $1 million award.
UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) teacher Keishia Thorpe has won the 2021 Global Teacher Prize awarded by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for her work to expand college access among low-income, first-generation immigrant and refugee students. Thorpe was selected for the $1 million prize from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world.
“Educators like Keishia Thorpe are at the heart of our mission of welcoming, educating and elevating scholars,” said Dr. Monica Goldson, Chief Executive Officer. “We are so proud of this well-earned recognition by the international community for her outstanding contributions to equity in education.”
A 16-year educator and immigrant from Jamaica, Thorpe served as an English teacher at Walker Mill Middle School from 2004 to 2007. She returned to PGCPS in 2018 to teach 12th-grade English at International High School at Langley Park, where all students are English language learners and most identify as low-income.
In awarding her the Global Teacher Prize, the Varkey Foundation credited her work in redesigning the 12th-grade English curriculum to be culturally relevant for first-generation students, immigrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and South and Central America, noting that students have since shown significant improvement in reading and English language proficiency scores for English language learners.
“Ms. Thorpe exemplifies the qualities necessary for working with our diverse student community,” said Dr. Eunice Perez-Humphrey, International High School at Langley Park principal. “Every day she goes above and beyond to address students’ needs in and outside the classroom.”
The Global Teacher Prize is just the latest of Thorpe’s many achievements.
In July, she received the Maryland Medal of Excellence from Gov. Larry Hogan for her work influencing equitable policies in education. During the 2018-19 school year, she was named National Lifechanger of the Year, an award recognizing teachers who inspire students and “go above and beyond.”
Thorpe co-founded the nonprofit U.S. Elite International Track and Field Inc., which helps “at risk” student-athletes pursue college scholarships. She also founded the Hope Beyond Distance Foundation and Food4Change, a program providing support for immigrant students and their families.
Thorpe received a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Howard University. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Strayer University, and is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in social emotional learning.
The Varkey Foundation was founded in 2014 to improve educational standards and enhance the capacity of teachers worldwide. Often described as the Nobel Prize for educators, the Global Teacher Prize is presented to highlight the importance of educators who deserve to be recognized and honored.