Robotics Teacher in the running for million-dollar prize


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Waialua High School teacher Glenn Lee, who kicked off Hawaii’s robotics movement, was recently chosen as one of the Top 10 finalists for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

Glenn Lee, USA

An electrical engineer by profession who embarked on a career change 24 years ago to fulfill a desire to become a STEM teacher who could offer students real-world applications of what they were learning. Lee’s pioneering efforts in building a robotics movement that ignited a passion for STEM throughout the state is a testament to his remarkable successes and selfless dedication to students, educators, and the Hawaii STEM community.

He is the only finalist from the United States, selected from more than 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries.

Glenn’s dedication towards learning

Committed to rigor and relevance, Lee was determined to learn everything he could about robotics. He fostered partnerships, wrote grants, personally bringing in $5m, and in 1999 helped launch the state’s first robotics program in a small isolated, rural community. Today, over 750+ robotics programs exist for grades K-12. Truly living the program’s motto: “It’s not all about winning, it’s about teamwork, commitment, and responsibility”.

Since the 2007 school year, 87 % of Lee’s students have met proficiency in reading and math on the Hawaii State Assessment, and 71 % have maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher. “Students who work with Mr. Lee explain that he holds them to the highest of expectations,” says Randiann Porras-Tang, retired principal of Waialua High and Intermediate. “He prepares them for life in the real world. He never accepts excuses and is incredibly persistent in challenging them to achieve excellence.” Most recently, he has been working with the Hawaii State Legislature in 2016 and 2017 to introduce a bill to create a STEM Innovation Centre.

Global Teacher Prize

This award, already in its fourth edition, awards 1 million dollars and has the objective of recreating the exemplary task of millions of educators around the world.

The Global Teacher Prize, known as the Nobel Prize for Education, is an award created to recognize the outstanding contribution of the most outstanding teacher of the year to the profession and to underline the importance of the role of teachers in society. Bill Gates paid a valuable tribute to the work of teachers around the world.

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