Keishia Thorpe 2021

Keishia Thorpe, who has opened up college education for low-income, first-generation American, immigrant and refugee students, has been named the winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2021.

US teacher Keishia Thorpe, who has opened up college education for low-income, first-generation American, immigrant and refugee students, has been named the winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2021, in partnership with UNESCO.

Keishia's win was announced on the 10th November 2021, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France

Keishia, an English teacher at International High School Langley Park, Bladensburg, Maryland, was selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications for the Global Teacher Prize from 121 countries around the world.

Keishia Thorpe currently teaches English to 12th-grade students at the International High School Langley Park, Bladensburg, Maryland, United States, a school where 100% of her students are English language learners and 95% identify as low-income. Keishia 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. As a result of her interventions, 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.

Keishia dedicates a huge amount of time encouraging her high school students to apply for college, assisting them with their applications and helping them gain fully funded 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.

Keishia’s caring goes way beyond the classroom. One of her greatest achievements was to co-found (along with her twin sister, Dr. Treisha Thorpe) U.S. Elite International Track and Field, Inc, 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 built a network of U.S. college coaches with whom student-athletes are paired, with a view to earning full scholarships. To date, she has helped over 500 students get full athletic track and field scholarships. U.S. Elite has achieved over 90% college graduation of student members, approximately 20% pursued a Master’s degree, and 8% post-graduate degree.

Keishia also established an Annual Scholarship and Athletic Convention, where college coaches and admissions and compliance teams inform economically disadvantaged student-athletes about college admissions and interact with them one-on-one, allowing many to get recruited there and then. Keishia was honoured with the Medal of Excellence from the Governor of the state of Maryland for her work in influencing equitable policies in education and 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”.