This morning I read with interest a BBC article reporting on the 2019 winner of the Global Teacher Prize. The recipient is a Kenyan Mathematics and Physics teacher, Peter Tabichi.
Tabichi teaches at a school where the average classroom size is 58 students and there is no reliable connection to the internet. The majority of his students are very poor and many are orphaned. Yet, his students have been successful in national and international science competitions, including an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK. Read about it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47690849.
The article gave me pause for reflection on instruction and learning in our school and our faculty. Computer technology in the classroom may have its merits but it is not a determining factor in producing excellent mathematicians and scientists. I suppose this is made even clearer when you consider Galileo nor Newton had laptops. Low student to teacher ratios and single-aged classrooms may have their merits too. But again, not a determining factor. How about money spent per student? Nope.
From what I gather, Peter Tabichi has a few really important things going for him. He is really smart. He absolutely loves mathematics and science. And best of all, his students love him and he loves his students.
Peter Tabichi is a brother of the Franciscan Order. He reportedly donates 80% of his salary to assist the poor in his school afford clothing, food, and books. (I wonder what he’ll do with his $1 million prize from the Varkey Foundation?) He is an encourager. At 35 years of age, he has been teaching for only twelve years.
Not everyone can be Global Teacher of the Year. And yet, teachers can and do exhibit knowledge and passion for their subject, as well as a sincere care for the students they serve.
I have a deep admiration for each of the faculty members at Faith Plano. I don’t know that they give 80% of their salary back to their students. But I do know that they sacrifice to teach at a classical Lutheran school. Their salaries at best are 70% of their public school counterparts. They volunteer to coach, tutor, direct musicals and more. They are smart and they love the subject matter they teach. They are encouragers. I know that because they encourage me and I see them doing the same for others.
Best of all, they confess Jesus Christ. They are committed to nurturing the Christian faith in their students. Rust nor moth will ever destroy that. The faculty at FLS may never receive the Global Teacher Prize, then again, one of the may. Nevertheless, I am convinced that I know of no better group of teachers to partner with me in the classical Lutheran education of my children.