First, the Shell Science Teacher of the Year and then an Induction into the National Teacher Hall of Fame, now, Gary Koppelman’s success in the Blissfield Elementary classroom could be going global.
The veteran elementary school teacher is one of 50 finalists from an original pool of 5,000 teachers worldwide for the $1 million Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
According to a press release from the foundation, the award is widely referred to as the Nobel prize for teaching, it is the largest prize of its kind and is open to teachers in every school i every country of the world. Applicants are judged on how they open up their pupil’s minds, how much they contribute to the community, and how much they encourage others to become teachers. The Varkey GEMS foundation founded by Sunny Varkey.
Koppelman will be competing with 15 other US teachers along with applicants from the United Kingdom, Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Estonia,India, Kenya, Jordan and other countries. A committee will selected the top 10 finalists that will be announced in February 2015. The GEMS Global Teacher Prize Academy including award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, Baroness Martha Lane Fox, and several world-renowned professors, business people make up the selection committee that will select and announce the winner in Dubai on March 16, 2015.
The award is not the only one for which Koppelman is currently being considered. He is one of two finalists for a Presidential Math and Science Award to be given next spring.
The $1 million prize would be paid out in equal installments over the next 10 years. The winner will also be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey GEMS Foundation and as a condition of winning they must remain a classroom teacher for at least five years after receiving the award.
Koppelman said he has no plans to go anywhere for a long while either way.
“My pinnacle is teaching at Blissfield Elementary School he said.
For the complete story by Melissa Burnor, please see the Dec. 10, 2014, edition of The Advance, which also includes the Winter Sports Preview for Blissfield, Whiteford and Britton Deerfield schools as well as the 2015 Community Wall Calendar.