Wallenpaupack Area EA member a top 10 finalist for $1 million Global Teacher Prize
Michael Soskil, an elementary science teacher in Wallenpaupack Area School District, has been named a top 10 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, dubbed the "Nobel Prize for teaching," a $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher by the Varkey Foundation.
Soskil's dedication to service learning helps his students find their passions while engaging with other students from around the world.
"This is my hometown," he said. "It's a small rural town in northeastern Pennsylvania. It's important for kids here to know not just about the world, but know how much they matter. They can make an impact even though they are here."
In his classroom, he has created experiences to help his students find their passions while teaching necessary content. He aims to create an emotional connection for his students - to find something that sparks their interest and instills a love of learning. These experiences replace the standard textbook curriculum.
"I believe that kids can't learn unless they have an emotional connection. But that can be difficult sometimes because they don't know what they are passionate about at 10 years old. So we expose kids to as many passionate individuals from around the world as possible," he said. "That's me with teaching. We talk to the person at the sea bird hospital in South Africa, who talks about reducing the use of plastics and how it's good for the birds. We talk to the shark expert in the Bahamas. The kids latch on to something, and we attach content to that."
Soskil will travel to Dubai in March for meetings with past finalists to discuss ways to improve the status of the teaching profession around the world and share ideas for innovation in the classroom. The Global Teacher Prize winner will be announced in Dubai on March 10.
"It's an incredible honor to be able to represent teachers all over the world working to create great experiences in their classrooms and highlight innovative things in our schools," Soskil said.
Look for more details about Michael Soskil and the incredible things he is doing in his classroom in the May issue of Voice.