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Three U.S. Teachers Compete for 'Nobel Prize of Teaching'

Three U.S. Teachers Compete for 'Nobel Prize of Teaching'

Three U.S. teachers appear on the list for the top ten finalists from around the world to receive the $1 million prize for their efforts to promote global citizenship in the classroom.

The prize will be announced on March 15 in Dubai, and has been dubbed "the Nobel Prize for Teaching," according to an article on

According to the article, "the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize carries with it a commitment to teach for at least five more years, but beyond that the winner may spend the money on anything. The three American finalists are all veteran teachers; together they have nearly three-quarters of a century in the classroom."

"They are:

  • Nancie Atwell, 63, an English and writing teacher who founded a well-regarded private demonstration school in Edgecomb, Maine, that has attracted thousands of teachers in the past 25 years. Atwell, who began teaching in 1973, is the author of nine books on writing. She has edited five collections of other teachers' writings.
  • Naomi Volain, 56, a high school science teacher in Springfield, Mass., whose hands-on lessons in environmental science and outdoor education have won praise as well as awards. Originally a nutritionist — teaching is her third career after medical copywriting — Volain has spent 17 years in the classroom.
  • Stephen Ritz, 52, an elementary school teacher in New York City's South Bronx, who has pioneered a low-cost, portable gardening and nutrition program. He and his students have installed more than 100 gardens throughout New York City, and he has established a food production business that helps families maintain "food security" in neighborhoods that lack access to fresh produce.

All three, according to the article, "said that, win or lose, the $1 million prize shines a needed spotlight on teachers — day-in, day-out workers who don't always get the recognition they deserve."

"Teachers are in everyone's life, sort of like background," Volain said. "We're kind of like infrastructure — the public infrastructure."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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