Waialua High School teacher Glenn Lee, who kicked off Hawaii’s robotics movement, was chosen today as one of the Top 10 finalists for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.
Philanthropist Bill Gates announced the top nominees from a field of 30,000 entries and Lee is the only American on the list. The award was established by the London-based Varkey Foundation four years ago to elevate the role of teachers in society.
“When you think about what drives progress and improvement in the world, education is like a master switch — one that opens up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and societies,” Gates said.
An engineer-turned-teacher, Lee helped launch the first organized robotics program in the state at rural Waialua High and Intermediate School in 1999. Since then, the field has mushroomed into 750 robotics programs across the islands, involving students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I want to congratulate Glenn Lee for being selected as a top 10 finalist from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers,” said education entrepreneur Sunny Varkey, who created the Varkey Foundation and the prize. “I hope his story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Hawaii and throughout the world every day.”
The winner will be announced March 18 at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.