The acknowledgments just keep coming for Jamaican-born educator Keishia Thorpe.
In July, she was awarded the state of Maryland’s Medal of Excellence by Governor Larry Hogan and, just recently, she was selected among the 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize which awards the winner US$1 million.
Then, on Monday (September 13), she was more than pleasantly surprised when she was awarded The Town of Bladensburg Unsung Hero Community Award for her “professional dedication and commitment to building a stronger and better community for the students, staff and residents where she currently serves as an ELA Success Coach, academic teacher, and as a community liaison for the International School at Langley Park… “.
As the plaque states, the award stems from Thorpe’s exemplary work in her community, work that was confirmed by Dr Karen Dunkley, leader of the Jamaica Diaspora North East, and which extends beyond her community in Bladensburg.
“Keishia is not only leveraging her wealth of knowledge and resources in her school community but as the co-chair for the Education Sector of the Jamaica Diaspora North East, she contributes to education initiatives in Jamaica to develop teachers and education programs. So not only is her community work in education creating local impact but global impact as well,” Dunkley said.
Thorpe, a former student at St Andrew High in Jamaica, who won an athletic scholarship to university in the United States, said she was pleasantly surprised by the honour.
“I am no stranger to community town-hall meetings, but when I was specifically invited to the Bladensburg Town Hall meeting by Chief Collington on Monday, September 13, I was not expecting to be honoured or awarded as an unsung hero,” said the celebrated teacher, who was also awarded with the Mayor’s medallion on the night.
“Honestly, I do not consider myself a hero. I know I have put a lot of work into my school community, but there is so much more to be done. I think the leaders of the town of Bladensburg are the true heroes, because every time I call on them, they show up for my students.”
Thorpe said the work she does to empower and improve the lives of the members of her community is just part of a collective effort by stakeholders.
“As a Prince George’s County Education Association (PGCEA) Community School Educator Liaison, it is really a pleasure to connect with and partner with so many community stakeholders to ensure my school is a resource for students and families,” she said, while praising Bladensburg’s mayor as well as several council members for their support.
“I remember how challenging 2020 was for everyone. I am so glad I was able to reach out to Mayor Takisha James, who did not hesitate to help with providing food for my students and families and service-learning hours to help keep students on track for graduation.
“I remember doing community canvassing with her, Council Member Lundy, and Council Member Route last summer with some of my students, teaching them civic engagement while trying to reach hard-to-count communities so all residents could be counted for the 2020 Census.”
She revealed that during Monday’s presentation ceremony, she was not even aware that she had done so much but hopes that her example can be an inspiration to many.
“While Mayor James was reading my contributions to the Town of Bladensburg, I was in awe. I did not even remember some of the things she mentioned. That goes to show that when you truly love what you are doing, you do not keep count, which is a true trait of servant leadership,” she said.
“I just hope that other educators feel inspired to be more involved with the community in which their students and families live.”