Keishia Thorpe, a high school teacher from PG County, Maryland, is the winner of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize in 2021 mainly for her work in opening up college education for students who are underprivileged.
The award was given by Varkey Foundation to Thorpe after being selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world. Thorpe, who teaches English at International High School Langley Park in Bladensburg, Maryland, “completely 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,” according to the Global Teacher Prize’s website.
Her efforts resulted to 40% increase in her students’ reading. She was also responsible for helping high school students gain fully-funded scholarships. In fact, she helped seniors win $6.7 million in scholarships in 2018-2019 alone.
Thorpe knew firsthand the struggles of underprivileged students as she herself migrated to the US from Africa on a track and field scholarship. She and her twin sister Dr. Treisha Thorpe also founded a non-profit organization called U.S. Elite International Track and Field, Inc. that aims to help “at-risk” student-athletes across the globe connect with college coaches to access fully-funded scholarships in the US.
Prior to the recent achievement, Thorpe was also honored with the Medal of Excellence from the governor of Maryland and was chosen as the National Life Changer of the Year in 2018-2019.