2020 School Librarian of the Year Cicely Lewis Named a Finalist for Million-Dollar Global Teacher Prize

The Georgia high school librarian and Read Woke columnist is one of 50 educators from around the world who are up for the $1 million honor.

Cicely Lewis—2020 SLJ School Librarian of the Year, founder of Read Woke, and SLJ columnist—is a finalist for the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

The 50 educators on the 2021 prize shortlist were selected from more than 8,000 nominations from 121 countries. Lewis, library media specialist at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, GA, is one of six Americans among the finalists and the only library media specialist.

“I am so honored to be included with all of these outstanding educators from across the world!” Lewis tweeted. “All I can say is Wow! And, it all started in the school library. #globalteacherprize #readwoke

The Global Teacher Prize recognizes “one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.” It also aims to spotlight on the important role of teachers in society. This is the seventh year of the prize.

“Congratulations to all the Top 50 finalists. Their stories clearly highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead—from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics,” Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said in a statement. “It is only by prioritizing education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”

The winner will receive the prize money paid in equal installments over 10 years.

Last year, Indian village teacher Ranjitsinh Disale won the prize for his work transforming the life opportunities of young girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School, Paritewadi, Solapur, Maharashtra, India.

This year, the Varkey Foundation launched the Chegg.org Global Student Prize to highlight the efforts of students making an impact on learning, the lives of their peers, and society.

“In this age of COVID, students have shown great courage to keep studying and keep fighting for a better future despite huge obstacles,” Chegg.org’s Lila Thomas said in a statement. “The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices. After all, it is their dreams, their insights, and their creativity that will help solve some of the greatest questions humanity has ever faced.”

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