Rebecca West, deputy principal at Bonnyrigg Public School, New South Wales, Australia and Steven Kolber, an English and History teacher from Melbourne, Australia, have been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2021 in partnership with UNESCO.
The pair were selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world.
Now in its seventh year, the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize is the largest prize of its kind. The Global Teacher Prize 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.
Rebecca West teaches in a highly multicultural community, serving people from complex, low socio-economic backgrounds. As a classroom teacher she always achieved sustainable growth in academic, behavioural and social skills of the students in her care, creating safe and engaging environments where learning is relevant and student voice is a powerful contributor.
Now in a major leadership role and helping support the professional development of teachers state-wide, she has also refined her school’s learning structure to deliver great results for the very young children in her care. A tech innovator, she uses play-based, experiential, STEM, and games-based learning and is famous for creating educational videos on her education YouTube channel Clever Pickles, while her YouTube channel Talkin’ Chalk combined with social media shares content and engages in professional dialogue with educators worldwide.
Melbourne English and EAL teacher Steven Kolber doubles as a part-time ‘pracademic’ whilst teaching during the day so he can clarify and sharpen his teaching practice. The philosophy of sharing is caring sees him create multiple videos on his ‘Mr Kolber’s Teaching’ YouTube channel, contributing to the TER podcast and leading teacher discussions on research through the #edureading group.
His partnership work with global teachers and stakeholders internationally seeks to advocate and platform teacher excellence and build their confidence around engaging with policy. Through his advocacy he strives to empower teachers to democratise schooling and understand their important role within society.
As a teacher, speaker, writer and researcher he is a popular fixture on the international education conference scene and online teaching resources, and a leading light in organisations like Teachers Across Borders Australia, with his work supporting teacher development in Cambodia, which involves collaborating with teachers from Australia, Sweden, and the United States.
This year, the Varkey Foundation launched the Chegg.org Global Student Prize, a sister award to the Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who are reshaping our world for the better. The winning student will receive $100,000.
Together, the Global Teacher Prize and the Global Student Prize will tell inspirational stories from both sides of education. The prizes will shine a spotlight on the great work teachers do in preparing young people for the future and the amazing promise some of the brightest students are showing in their learning and beyond.