The lecturer who could be the best in the world after being named one of the top 10.
Dr Richard Spencer is a top ten finalist in the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
The Billingham lecturer is one step closer to being crowned the best in the world. Middlesbrough College A-level biology teacher, Dr Richard Spencer, has been named as a top ten finalist in a competition to find the world’s best teacher.
Dr Spencer, known to his students as Doc, is the only teacher in Europe to make the shortlist for the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize – the biggest prize of its kind which seeks to find one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
Launched in March 2014, the competition is widely referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching.
Dr Spencer, of Wolviston Court, Billingham, said: “I still can’t quite believe that I’ve been shortlisted – I keep pinching myself. It’s a great honour to be chosen as one of the final ten candidates, all of who are doing incredible things in the world of teaching and learning. I’m very mindful that the whole purpose of the global prize isn’t to make a celebrity out of a teacher but to celebrate the teaching profession and the importance of teaching.”
The competition has already seen Dr Spencer achieve extraordinary things. He was chosen at random as one of three of the 50 shortlisted candidates to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome on February 5, at the IV Scholas Occurentes World Educational Congress.
Dr Spencer studied for a PhD in molecular biology before becoming a teacher. He taught at SRC Bede Sixth Form in Billingham for more than a decade and has previously won prizes for his work as a science teacher. He was awarded an MBE in 2010 for services to science communication and was named as one of the UK’s Leading 100 Practising Scientists in 2014.
A member of three UK science committees – Science on Stage UK, Nuffield Bioethics Education Advisory Group and Commemorating Biology Working Group, Dr Spencer involves his students in science projects, contributing to science education at conferences and festivals across Europe.
He said: “What I love about teaching is the privilege of working with young people, to fire their passion and reciprocate their energy. The buzz of seeing those ‘light bulb’ moments when challenging topics start to make sense for students makes you realise that the hours of planning innovative learning experiences were worthwhile. Seeing my students develop in confidence, knowing that I have helped to prepare them for future success way beyond their time with me in the classroom is hugely rewarding.”
Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive, Zoe Lewis, said: “Doc is an inspiration to staff and students and we wish him the best of luck when he travels to Dubai for the final. Of course it will be marvellous if he wins but just getting to the top ten is a magnificent achievement and he’s already a winner as far as we are concerned.”
Dr Spencer will be flown to Dubai along with the other nine finalists for an award ceremony taking place on Sunday, March 15, at the Global Education and Skills Forum.
The above article by Lyndsay Oxley first published on Gazettelive.co.uk in Feb, 2015.