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