Nancie Atwell from the United States received her Global Teacher Prize award from Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, and President Bill Clinton, at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March 2015.
Nancie discovered a love of books as a child while in hospital with rheumatic fever. She teaches English as a writing-reading workshop, an innovation she first described in her book ‘In The Middle’ (the book’s first two editions sold half a million copies).
Students choose the subjects they write about and the books they read. Because the structure of the class boosts their capacity and stamina, each year her students are able to read on average forty books representing fourteen genres.
At the same time they accomplish an average of twenty-one pieces of writing across thirteen genres. Due to her encouragement and support, many of her students have become published authors.
I’m convinced that teaching language arts is one of the great careers: demanding of time and energy, but meaning-filled, worthwhile, and interesting. I get to demonstrate what is possible, teach what is useful, establish conditions that invite engagement, support the hard work of literary reading and writing, and enjoy the kinds of relationships with adolescents that drew me to education in the first place.
In 1990, Nancie founded the Center for Teaching and Learning, a K-8 non-profit demonstration school created for the purpose of developing and disseminating methods. The school actively seeks children from underprivileged families to serve a student body that represents a diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds and ability levels. 97% of its graduates have matriculated to university.