CHICKASHA, OK (KSWO) – A man who received his teaching degree in Oklahoma is in running for the Varkey Foundation's 2018 Global Teacher Prize of $1 million.
"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.
One of only 50 finalists, Akash Patel, a USAO alumni, received his bachelor's degree in elementary education in 2014 and currently teaches Spanish at Thomas J. Rusk Middle School in Dallas.
"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."
The Global Teacher Prize is presented annually to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their field.
Patel began 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. 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.