JM | Oct 16, 2021

Keishia Thorpe has 1 in 10 chance of walking off with US$1 million Global Teacher prize

/ Our Today


Jamaica-born educator Keishia Thorpe has a mathematical one in 10 chance of becoming a millionaire next month after she made the top-10 in the Global Teacher Prize.

The Global Teacher Prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognized and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them. 

Thorpe, a teacher at International High School Langley Park in Bladensburg, Maryland in the United States, was among 8000 nominations and applications for the US$1 million prize funded by the Varkey Foundation.

Early last month, Thorpe was among the top 50-finalists and has now made the cut to the final 10 with the winner set to be announced on November 10, 2021.

Now closer to the million-dollar prize, Thorpe told OurToday that she was stunned to hear she made the top 10.

“Finding out I made the Top 10 was an overwhelming feeling.  I am so grateful to the Varkey Foundation and The Global Teacher Prize for all they have done to elevate the status of teachers around the world,” said the veteran teacher, who on September 13, 2021, was awarded The Town of Bladensburg Unsung Hero Community Award.

“From those who were chosen in the Top 50 to myself and the other nine teachers in the Top 10, we are all winners already.  To be able to be in such a “League of Extraordinary Teachers” is a win in of itself.  For all the other teachers who went through this process as well, I want to say, stay encourage, continue the hard work, and remember “students first”.

Thorpe has had a glittering 16-year career as an educator, mentoring college applicants and student-athletes, as well as expanding access to subsidized testing, financial aid, and full scholarships.

She is also a teacher mentor to new teachers, designing and sharing best practices with her team and Professional Learning Community.

Over the years, she has contributed to public debates on the teaching profession at State Board of Education meetings and testifies on teacher retention and funding.

A former student-athlete, who won a scholarship to study in the United States, Thorpe has given back as a co-founder of US Elite International Track and Field Inc., a non-profit offering ‘at risk’ student-athletes across the globe an opportunity to use their talents as a vehicle to access scholarships to earn a college diploma debt-free.

She believes the Global Teacher Prize is very important to teachers like her because their work often goes unrecognized.

“Sometimes I do not think that teachers get the recognition they deserve so it is wonderful that the Varkey Foundation and The Global Teacher Prize put a spotlight on teachers across the world emphasizing the work we do to help students become successful and all the challenges we have to overcome inside and outside of the classroom to make it happen,” she said.

“With the Varkey Foundation highlighting teacher’s stories, we realize that we share so many commonalities in our education journeys and to now be a part of a group of teachers, to collaborate and share best practices is a wonderful experience,” she added.

She acknowledges that her school and wider community have played major roles in helping her achieve her goals and expressed her gratitude for the support she has received over the years.

“We all know that “it takes a village” so I want to say thank you to all those who have contributed to my success story and are a constant resource and support to me in my school building and in the local and global community,” she said. 

“A special thank you to my sister Dr. Treisha Thorpe who has been my rock because so much of my story is hers as well. I am honored that The Global Teacher Prize has given me a larger platform to bring to light the many issues that plague our school community and further marginalize our population of economically disadvantaged students.  I am also blessed that they care about my personal story and the struggles I experienced in my own journey.  For the first time in my life I feel like I get a chance to tell my story and I am not being judged by my story, instead my story has been given power to inspire others,” she added.


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