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The Global Search for Education: Teacher I Need You

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Special Ed teacher Matthew Cunningham awarded the inaugural GEMS Education Chicago Teacher Award

"But what does it all mean to YOU?" My teacher was referring to all the facts I had memorized and regurgitated in my answer. What did the facts teach me? Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head. And, in that magical moment, we made a connection that would change the way I thought about history forever.

"When the magic moment hits, it's an amazing rush," explains Matthew Cunningham, a 7th and 8th grade special education teacher from Chicago Public Schools' Frederic Chopin School. "A flood of pride rushes over you. You can see that child's eyes light up. They often sit up a little straighter, hold their head a little higher, and you can see the confidence of success taking over."


"Teaching is the most noble profession due to its responsibility." - Matthew Cunningham

Cunningham was awarded the inaugural $50,000 GEMS Education Chicago Teacher Award at an inspiring gala at The Field Museum in Chicago on Thursday night in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, GEMS Chairman Sunny Varkey, GEMS North America CEO Denise Gallucci, as well as educators and parents across Chicago. Matthew, who credits his Mom (an educator) for his passion to teach, was chosen based on his forward thinking and action-oriented approach to raising the bar of the teaching profession, demonstrating proven innovation in the classroom, and driving excellence both in the classroom and in the community. "Teaching is the most noble profession due to its responsibility," he comments. "Sometimes you have to inspire kids to reach for goals that are so far off in the distance that they may not even see where they are headed, but it is up to the teacher to guide them down the path to success."

The leading education systems around the world all have one thing in common - a top quality, highly respected teaching profession. Varkey, whose schools educate more than 150,000 children in 15 countries around the world, is responsible for a network of over 13,000 education professionals. "Extraordinary educators are the catalyst for excellence in our students," comments Geoff Jones, Founding Head of the new GEMS World Academy that opens in Chicago this fall. "We are delighted to partner with Chicago's education community to learn from each other and to grow together."


"I want to help facilitate a community of teachers and educators in which we can share and communicate ideas and best practices with teachers across all types of schools here in Chicago, and hopefully around the world." - Matthew Cunningham

This is the first year of the GEMS Education Chicago Teacher Award. In addition to his $50,000 cash prize, Cunningham will serve as an ambassador for Chicago's education community and be an advisor to GEMS Education Teacher Innovation and Leadership Program that will launch later this year. "I want to help facilitate a community of teachers and educators in which we can share and communicate ideas and best practices with teachers across all types of schools here in Chicago, and hopefully around the world," he says.

For more information

All photos are courtesy of GEMS Education.

In The Global Search for Education, join me and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Michael Block (U.S.), Dr. Leon Botstein (U.S.), Professor Clay Christensen (U.S.), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (U.S.), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (U.S.), Professor Andy Hargreaves (U.S.), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Jean Hendrickson (U.S.), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Honourable Jeff Johnson (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Dr. Eija Kauppinen (Finland), State Secretary Tapio Kosunen (Finland), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Lord Ken Macdonald (UK), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Shiv Nadar (India), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Dr. Pak Tee Ng (Singapore), Dr. Denise Pope (US), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Dr. Diane Ravitch (U.S.), Richard Wilson Riley (U.S.), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Professor Manabu Sato (Japan), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. Anthony Seldon (UK), Dr. David Shaffer (U.S.), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (U.S.), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais U.S.), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (U.S.), Sir David Watson (UK), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Dr. Mark Wormald (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.
The Global Search for Education Community Page

C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, "The Global Search for Education" and "How Will We Read?" She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.