Tabernacle teacher’s career being highlighted on a global stage

Press release from the Varkey Foundation.

Third-grade Tabernacle Elementary School teacher Michael Dunlea was the recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematic and Science Teaching on Oct. 15 (Krystal Nurse/The Sun). Photo taken on Oct. 22.

Third grade teacher Michael Dunlea of Tabernacle Elementary School is one of five American teachers to have been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize 2020 in partnership with UNESCO. Now in its sixth year, the $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind. 

Dunlea, along with visual arts teacher Dr. Angel Mejico from El Cerrito Middle School, California; STEM teacher Jeff Remington from Palmyra Area School District, Pennsylvania; Educators Rising and English teacher Kimberly Eckert from Brusly High School, Louisiana; English teacher Leah Juelke at Fargo South High School, North Dakota, are shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize 2020, selected from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world. 

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The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize 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. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.

With 10 years to go to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 — providing a quality education for every child — the Global Teacher Prize has partnered with UNESCO to ensure teachers are right at the top of governments’ agendas.

Dunlea teaches in a rural community with some disadvantaged students and some with medical conditions such as autism. 

His unique classroom is arranged like a traditional home living room, creating a reduced stress environment where struggling learners feel supported. He also uses tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual activities to aid all areas of study and brings in music, food and smells to make learning experiential and physically involving.

In 2017 and 2018, nearly three-quarters of his students exceeded their expected results in mathematics and reading. 

He uses classroom technology to take students on virtual field trips around the globe, last year connecting to 15 countries and he has been leading The Empatico/NNSTOY Fellowship, connecting 42 states, 5 countries and more than 1,000 students interacting with their peers across cultures. 

In 2018, Michael was recognized with the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, for New Jersey K-6 Mathematics.

The top 50 shortlisted teachers are narrowed down to 10 finalists by a prize committee, with that result announced in June 2020. The winner will then be chosen from these 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. All 10 finalists will be invited to London for the Award ceremony at the Natural History Museum on Oct. 12, where the winner will be announced live on stage.

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