A Maryland English teacher has won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize and was selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world.
Keishia Thorpe's win was announced on Wednesday at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
Thorpe currently teaches English to 12th-grade students at the International High School Langley Park in Bladensburg.
Thorpe redesigned the 12th-grade curriculum for the English department to make it culturally relevant to her students who are first-generation Americans, immigrants or refugees from mostly Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and South and Central America.
As a result, her English Language Learners have shown a 40% increase in their reading, which contributed to the school meeting its growth-to-target rate with a 10% increase in WIDA scores for 2019-2020 and the highest in the school district for ELLs.
Thorpe also helps her high school students apply for college, assists them with their applications and helps them gain scholarships.
She has helped her senior students in 2018-2019 alone, win over $6.7 million in scholarships to 11 different colleges with almost 100% of them going tuition-free.
Thorpe co-founded U.S. Elite International Track and Field, Inc, with her twin sister, a non-profit giving ‘at risk' student-athletes across the globe an opportunity to use their talents as a vehicle to access fully funded scholarships to U.S. colleges and universities.
U.S. Elite has achieved over 90% college graduation of student members, approximately 20% pursued a Master’s degree, and 8% post-graduate degree.
Thorpe was honored with the Medal of Excellence from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for her work in influencing equitable policies in education.
She was also named the National Life Changer of the Year in the entire USA for 2018-2019, an award given to teachers who inspire and go above and beyond for their students and "exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership".