Congratulations to Global Teacher Prize Winner Nancie Atwell

We are very proud to announce that our first Global Teacher Prize winner is Nancie Atwell, teacher at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Maine, USA. Nancie truly represents everything that makes an excellent teacher, and she has impacted not only her students, but also fellow teachers, her community, and the world. As Nancie said upon being awarded:


Every one of our top ten finalists have made the profession of teaching proud by showcasing excellence and dedication in their field. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement in countries around the world about the amazing work the teachers do and it culminated today in Dubai with the announcement of the Global Teacher Prize winner! Bill Clinton was among the distinguished guests to honour and congratulate the Top 10 Finalists and to talk about the importance of teachers in his own life.

“Teachers taught me to memorize and synthesize, to understand and to imagine, to think and to dream” – Bill Clinton

What makes Nancie Atwell a super-special teacher and the winner of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize is her constant innovation over 40 years of teaching, striving to cultivate global citizens in the classroom, and being a leader in the field of education.

Innovative Teaching Methods

Forty years as an English teacher has taught Nancie a lot about what effective teaching methods look like, and it’s helped her develop her “writing-reading workshop” teaching style. She has her students choose the topics they want to write about as well as the books they want to read. “Because they decide, they engage,” Nancie says.

She is making students excited about learning and excelling; it’s no wonder her students read an average of 40 books every year! The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is itself an innovative approach to reaching students and other teachers simultaneously. Nancie and her colleagues experiment with new ways of teaching and publish and present their findings widely. Over 600 teachers from all over the world have spent time at CTL, learning more effective teaching methods.

global teacher prize winner nancie atwell

Developing Global Citizens

As our world becomes ever more connected across all borders and oceans, it is more important than ever to teach students how to be global citizens. Nancie recognizes the importance of celebrating the differences and commonalities across ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Teachers at CTL research various holidays from around the world and present them to the student body and organized a calendar with activities for each one.

She also keeps the libraries in her classrooms stocked with books about the lives, customs, and beliefs of children from around the world. Perhaps this is why her students have so enthusiastically participated in humanitarian work including sponsoring children’s education around the world and adopting acres of rainforests in Belize, Brazil, East Africa, Ecuador, and Panama.

global teacher prize winner nancie atwell

A Leader in Education

“In the classroom, I push myself to do my best by children. Outside of it, I push just as hard to tell stories about teaching, describe the insights I glean, and urge other teachers to adopt robust practices that engage students and lead them to excellence.”

Nancie has written and spoken about education extensively in her career, hoping to replicate her success in classrooms around the world. This is why she founded the Center for Teaching and Learning, which makes purposeful teaching its mission.

Nancie and her colleagues at CTL experiment with different methods of teaching and are thus constantly developing and publishing findings in the field of education. Many of her own students have gone on to enter the profession from kindergarten teachers to college professors.

global teacher prize winner nancie atwell

We are delighted that Nancie intends to donate the entirety of her $1 million Global Teacher Prize to the Center for Teaching and Learning! Here first priority is to establish a Varkey Foundation Endowment in support of tuition assistance at CTL to keep the school affordable for all families.

She will also create a fund dedicated to keeping the libraries in her students’ classrooms stocked with the latest and best in literature for her voracious readers. And finally, Nancie wants to give the physical structure of the school itself, built in 1990, a renovation — including a new roof, furnaces, and windows.


“CTL has an extraordinary track record both within and beyond its walls. It is time to attend to the walls.”

Thank you all for supporting our finalists and all teachers throughout the last few months. Let’s keep that enthusiasm for education going!  

All standing together

Join us in congratulating Nancie Atwell on becoming the well-deserved first winner of the Global #TeacherPrize!

Please share the news with your friends and help uplift the teaching profession.


Get Teacher Prize Updates

Connect With Us