KINGSTON — A Jamaican teacher is among ten finalists selected from a pool of 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017.
She is Tracy-Ann Hall, an automotive technology teacher at Jonathan Grant High School in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Now in its third year, the US $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and was set up to recognise 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 highlighting the stories of the ten finalists, 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 at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday, March 19.
Here is Hall’s story as stated in her bio on the Global Teacher Prize website:
Tracy-Ann Hall did not enjoy successful school years herself, due to undiagnosed dyslexia. She did not move on to higher education immediately but instead trained as an automotive technician and worked in a garage. This experience in training other learner mechanics gave her a lifelong love of teaching. With more qualifications, she entered the vocational teachers’ college in Jamaica and after three years graduated top of her class.
Her positive approach transformed her first teaching class from a group of students who had previously been written off as “poor” into a great success. She motivated a class of 30 boys, setting up a class library, encouraging them to read and deliver a book review on completing each volume. They began to excel in grade ten and by grade 11 were so motivated that eight of them joined the school choir and one became head boy at the school. Hers was also the first automotive exam class to score a 95 per cent pass in the history of the school. She also started and oversaw a programme for her class to feed street people, launch a junior automotive club and serve on the school magazine committee. Her students have gone on to a wide range of occupations – policemen, scuba divers, hotel managers, chefs, and, of course, automotive technicians – and she also encourages all her students to move into higher education.
Regarding her classroom as her workshop, Tracy-Ann plasters the walls with charts showcasing outstanding achievements of students and each of their goals for the year ahead. She encourages friendly competition between the students and gives rewards to those who achieve high grades and significant improvements.
Tracy-Ann has taught at various schools, all with the same success. She has convinced business leaders in the automotive sector to sponsor scholarships for exceptional students, ensuring they start with a firm foothold in the industry. With resources scarce, she has been ingenious in finding materials and components for her automotive classes, which are difficult to attract funding for, again forming partnerships with those in the automotive sector to use their facilities and spare parts. She has hosted summer schools for low-income families, bolstering her community. Her contribution has been recognised with a number of awards from the schools she has taught at.
The other nine finalists for the Global Teacher prize 2017 are:
Raymond Chambers, a computer science teacher from Brooke Weston Academy in Corby, Northamptonshire.
Salima Begum, Headteacher at Elementary College for Women Gilgit, Pakistan.
David Calle, from Madrid, Spain, the founder and creator of the Unicoos educational website.
Wemerson da Silva Nogueira, a science teacher at the Escola Antônio dos Santos Neves in Boa Esperança, Brazil.
Marie-Christine Ghanbari Jahromi, a physical education, maths and German teacher at Gesamtschule Gescher school, in Gescher, Germany.
Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher at Ikusik School, Kativik School Board, Canadian Arctic.
Ken Silburn, a science teacher at Casula High School, south-west Sydney, Australia
Yang Boya, a psychology teacher at The Affiliated Middle School of Kunming Teachers College, China.
Michael Wamaya, a dance teacher from Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya.