Alhassan Susso, from the International Community High School in Bronx, has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017.
Now in its third year, the US $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and 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 that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.
The 2016 award went to Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub. In 2015, it was won by American Nancie Atwell.
Alhassan Susso teaches History in New York’s Bronx and has overcome many obstacles to succeed in life and in his profession: an immigrant from West Africa, he had a rare eye disease in youth which left him nearly blind. Following the early death of his sister as an indirect result of her being unable to emigrate to the US and receive medical treatment, Alhassan wanted to become an immigration lawyer, but was persuaded that he could make more of a difference by empowering people as a teacher.
To motivate and equip his students to succeed, he has created the Inspiring Teens program, with a relationship-based approach designed to help teens build the skills to thrive academically, socially, professionally and economically. The program is built on five essential skills: Mindset, Vision, Setting, Interpersonal Communications, Leadership, and Financial Management. The central concept is of a Well-Rounded Student – consisting of eloquent speaking, purposeful reading, persuasive writing, and critical thinking. The program has resulted in a boost to standardized exam results from 29% to 69% in one year with a pass rate of over 90%. All the students who took the program for credit graduated and went to college, and for the last three years Alhassan has been the “Most Admired and Inspirational Teacher” in his school.
Alhassan is one of five US teachers in the Top 50 shortlist, the others being:
The top 50 have been shortlisted from over 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries from around the world. 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 at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday, March 19, 2017.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“We were overwhelmed by the huge support the Global Teacher Prize received this year. We intend to keep this momentum going as our journey continues to return teachers to their rightful position as one of the most respected professions in society.
“The tens of thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives”.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said:
“I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value.
“I applaud the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which recognizes their worth. The award is in line with my Global Education First Initiative, launched in 2012, which aims to give momentum to the worldwide movement to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning and foster global citizenship.”
The top 50 shortlisted teachers have now been judged by a Prize Committee with the final ten candidates to be announced in February 2016. The winner will then be chosen from ten finalists by a Global Teacher Prize Academy. All ten finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) in March next year where the winner will be announced live.