USAO alumnus among the finalists for Global Teacher Prize Akash Patel one of only 50 teachers worldwide to be honored

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USAO alumnus among the finalists for Global Teacher Prize
Akash Patel one of only 50 teachers worldwide to be honored

CHICKASHA, Okla. (January 23, 2018) – As one of only 50 finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s 2018 Global Teacher Prize, Akash Patel is yet another example of USAO alumni being lauded for their professional achievements. Patel received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2014 and currently teaches Spanish at Thomas J. Rusk Middle School in Dallas.

Based on a rigorous set of criteria, the Global Teacher Prize is a $1 million award presented annually to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their field. The prize is open to currently working educators who teach children ages 5-18 in every kind of school and in every country in the world.

“Seeing one of our young alumni in the running for such a preeminent award is tremendously inspiring for everyone in the education department and at USAO in general,” said Dr. Donna Gower, director of teacher education and associate professor and chair for education and speech-language pathology. “Mr. Patel’s nomination is a validation not only of his incredible hard work and vision, but also of the diverse, rigorous and unique curriculum that makes USAO such a special institution.”

Beginning his teaching career in rural Oklahoma communities where people were not used to “a brown Indian guy who spoke five languages and had traveled to over 30 countries,” Patel used his extensive experience with other cultures to design all of his lessons. In 2015, his first year of teaching, the State Department of Education named him Educator of the Month for January, and the Multicultural Education Institute named him their Multicultural Teacher of the Year for promoting global citizenship. He was named to The Journal Record’s Achievers Under 40 list in that year.

Keen to leverage new technologies, Patel connects his classrooms to the world with virtual platforms such as Skype and Google Hangout. In 2013, he created the World Experiences Foundation, a charitable organization that provides thousands of Oklahoma and Texas students opportunities to travel the world, and mobilized over 1,000 volunteers from more than 150 countries to join his Global Connect database. He has trained over 5,000 Oklahoma teachers to use the database and other multicultural programs.

The Varkey Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. To achieve their mission that every child has a good teacher, the Varkey Foundation builds teacher capacity through training programs all over the world, engages with global education policy through social advocacy campaigns, and provides grants to partner organizations that offer innovative solutions to current issues in education.

For more information, contact Gower at (405) 574-1253 or dgower@usao.edu .

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About University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is the state’s only public liberal arts college with approximately 850 students. Its mission is to provide the public with a distinctive and accessible liberal arts and sciences education. Combining an interdisciplinary core curriculum with superior instruction in major fields of study, USAO aims to provide a thorough education that prepares students for meaningful, purposeful lives.

Contact: Zach McGrew | News Bureau | (405) 574-1362 | zmcgrew@usao.edu
Amy Goddard | Communications & Marketing | (405) 574-1337 | agoddard@usao.edu

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