Michael Dunlea is one of 50 educators named worldwide, one of five in US

Tabernacle Elementary School teacher Michael Dunlea is one of five American teachers included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2020 in partnership with UNESCO. Now in its sixth year, the $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind.

The Burlington County educator, along with visual arts teacher Dr. Angel Mejico from El Cerrito Middle School in California, STEM teacher Jeff Remington from Palmyra School District in Pennsylvania, English teacher Kimberly Eckert from Brusly High School in Louisiana, and English teacher Leah Juelke at Fargo South High School in North Dakota, are shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize 2020, selected from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes who have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.

With 10 years to go to meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 4—providing a quality education for every child—the Global Teacher Prize has partnered with UNESCO to ensure teachers are right at the top of governments’ agendas.

“Every child in the world deserves an inspiring teacher and inspiring teachers deserve wide social recognition,” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO. “Now, more than ever, in a world of competing priorities, governments throughout the world must invest in teachers to meet their commitments to deliver universal quality education by 2030.”

Dunlea’s classroom

Dunlea’s classroom is arranged like a traditional home living room, creating a reduced stress environment where struggling learners feel supported. He also uses tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual activities to aid all areas of study, and brings in music, food and smells to make learning experiential and physical. In 2017 and 2018 nearly three-quarters of his students exceeded their expected results in mathematics and reading.

Dunlea uses classroom technology to take students on virtual field trips around the globe, last year connecting to 15 countries. He has also been leading the Empatico/National Network of State Teachers of the Year Fellowship, connecting 42 states, five countries and more than 1,000 students interacting with their peers across cultures.

As school buildings statewide are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, Dunlea quickly wrote and submitted to njea.org a list of suggestions for educators as they implement remote learning titled “When A School Year Starts Twice.”

In 2018, Dunlea was recognized with the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, for New Jersey K-6 Mathematics. In 2011, while teaching in the Stafford Township School District, Dunlea was named the Ocean County Teacher of the Year.

Winner to be honored in London

The top 50 shortlist has representatives from 37 countries and by highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The winner will be announced live on stage at red carpet ceremony taking place at the Natural History Museum in London on Oct. 12, 2020.

“Our recent Global Teacher Status Index finally gives academic proof to something that we’ve always instinctively known: the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school,” said Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize. “Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn’t only an important moral duty – it’s essential for a country’s educational outcomes.”

The top 50 shortlisted teachers are narrowed down to ten finalist teachers by a Prize Committee, with that result announced in June 2020. The winner will then be chosen from these ten finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. All ten finalists will be invited to London for the Award ceremony at the Natural History Museum on Monday 12 October 2020, where the winner will be announced live on stage.

For more information about the top 50 shortlist, visit globalteacherprize.org

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