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Inspiring stories from around the world

What are the Dedicated Teacher Awards? Teachers play a vital role in the lives of their students and often make a difference without even knowing it. The Dedicated Teacher Awards are a global competition in which students past and present can nominate their teachers and say a well-deserved thank you. This is our opportunity to join with people around the world to show our appreciation for the hard work that teachers put in every day. If you use a Cambridge University Press textbook published from May 2020, you will find our dedicated winner and finalists on the very first page – as recognition and thanks to them and all dedicated teachers around the world. This eBook contains the heart-warming stories shortlisted for the Dedicated Teacher Awards 2020; we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did. To the teachers featured in these pages – congratulations! We hope your nomination is something you are very proud of. And to teachers everywhere: you are doing an amazing job, thank you.

Patricia has been a teacher for over 30 years and currently teaches social studies at New Cambridge School, Colombia. Beyond being a teacher, she has been inspired by her students to create as many meaningful opportunities as possible to help them build their leadership talent to change the world. She has made this her mission in life and has been developing social projects at school for almost 10 years.


Patricia Abril New Cambridge School, Colombia Patricia has developed social projects and social services at school that have had impact in different populations in our small town: children who suffer cancer, handicapped adults, parks at the small town, employees at school, etc. After almost 7 years of working for one of the social projects, the government is willing to improve one of the parks at the city to focus on the service for handicapped adults. That project started in our classrooms with our students with the guidance of many teachers, but especially Patricia. Additionally, our students have started teaching English to students from a public school as part of the social responsibility that we want them to develop as global citizens.


Helen Comerford Lumen Christi Catholic College, Australia Helen is our Learning Coordinator who daily models a love and concern for every student that comes to her door (and the ones who don’t, but really need her). From supporting a student who has struggled with their sexuality to counselling students after the loss through suicide of a close friend, Helen walks with students through every difficulty they face and every celebration they share. She is uncompromising in advocating for students with disabilities and has created a truly inclusive environment for the students. Helen follows up with the resources and know-how to make changes, recently introducing a course for students to improve their skills for social and academic success. She also facilitated a course for teachers and Learning Assistants to learn more about behavioural management from a positive and proactive perspective, bringing opportunities for restorative justice in student-teacher relationships. Helen has the rare ability to fuse vision with practicality.


John Nicko Coyoca University of San Jose-Recoletos, Philippines Kuya Nicko is a role model to the growing number of Filipino educators who aspire to help students grow through an impactful approach that makes learning applicable to the adversities our society has. He is best known as a dynamic teacher, being able to work in and out of the campus to cater to different needs – not just for students, but also to different poor communities in Cebu, and even extensively having a project to help landslide-stricken areas in Mindanao. In our school, he pioneered the push to give value to mathematics through launching #Mathevation. He also organized our school’s first international research congress, Peer Learning Tutorial Sessions, a programme that allows students to teach other students who have a hard time understanding topics in calculus and general mathematics. Finally, he is an organizer in Cebu Young Leaders Summit, a programme that empowers young Cebuano student leaders.


Meera Rangarajan RBK International Academy, India Growing up with a speech impediment, I can promise you that I was not a fan of reading out loud in English class. Naturally, I hated the class. But in grade 7, we had a new English teacher. When she got to know about my speech impediment, she stayed back with me after school hours and we worked on it. She continued to help me until I got a distinction in Trinity’s Speech examination – something I would have never imagined. She saw that I had a passion in storytelling and with her support and guidance, I wrote short stories and even acted in a few plays in school. Before her, a lot of people questioned if I should continue normal schooling. Now I’m pursuing an undergraduate degree in another country. A large part of my identity owes a lot to her faith in me.


Tiffany Cavanagh Trident College Solwezi, Zambia Tiffany is a fantastic teacher whose dedication to the profession knows no boundaries! She teaches geography as well as travel & tourism. But she is also in charge of DofE and Outdoors Education. She takes pupils out in the African bush more than 6 times a year. She also organises community work with less privileged children in orphanages, a school for disabled children, a school for deaf and blind children and a UNHCR Refugee camp called Meheba. There, a group of students was involved with touching the lives of many refugees, especially orphaned children from DRC. The pupils, led by Tiffany and her team, had to cook and feed a group of 400 refugees who had not eaten in two days. They also helped build accommodation and gave youngsters support and hope. She is constantly looking at ways in which our pupils can help make a difference.


Stanley Manaay Salvacion National High School, Philippines

Abigail Parratt


City Impact Church, New Zealand Teacher Abigail is the definition of going above and beyond. She dedicates time to every student by motivating us to do our best, especially with her funny homemade stickers and detailed feedback. Her laugh and funny accents lighten up the studious mood. But her effort doesn’t stop at class, it extends to break, weekends and holidays, where she selflessly gives up her time for us. Every Tuesday, she would spend her free period to help me and I could email her on a Saturday night, and have a response before I woke up on Sunday. Her constructive criticism along with her encouraging words improved my grades from a D in the start of the year to a high B at prelims. Without Teacher Abigail’s help, I would never have gone into my English exam feeling confident and ready.

Alison Worthington Coombabah State High School, Australia Alison Worthington’s teachings were a turning point in my life. Being born legally blind, it was surprising I picked art as a coping tool, and although I showed passion, I lacked vision and technique. Alison saw a talent in me I didn’t recognize, nurturing and encouraging my abilities, leading me to create works I only dreamt of producing. My artwork has headlined exhibitions and still stands as an example to future students who pass through her class. Alison is engaging, innovative, and inspiring; an artist in her own right who always delivers. While I believe Alison qualifies for all the categories in this award, I’d have to choose “opening up the world” because I know, without a doubt, she opened mine.


Amal Dadoun British School of Sofia, Bulgaria Amal will never give up on the students because of their difficulties and she will not hesitate to make extra lessons for a student in case they don’t feel confident in French. She recorded audio of her voice for the students who have issues with pronunciation. For the shy ones, she made a project – being a YouTuber – that they could do at home and then present in class for others. Since then, the students who used to be shy started talking confidently in French. She is open-minded, with both students and parents alike. My son and his friends adore her ways of teaching French.

Anjila Bista Alok Vidyashram, Nepal Having known Anjila ma’am for almost nine years now, she not only helped me fight depression but also acted as my life coach. She was there to motivate and inspire me throughout my school years and is still there on my journey to graduating from medical school. I’m sure I’m only one of many who learned life lessons from her. She is a role model that all the students look up to and has her ways to inspire students in a manner that no one else can. Being there for her students beyond working hours makes her the most dedicated teacher I’ve ever come across and not to be dramatic, but I owe my life to her.


B M Subramanya Swamy Vidya Sanskar International School, India He would encourage us to ask more questions about life and teach us in such a way that allowed us to unveil these questions by ourselves! To explain certain challenging topics like mitosis, he arranged activities that involved class participation – where students were grouped into 2 pairs to form sister chromatids! Till this date, I remember and understand these concepts very well. Currently I’m studying BSc. integrative physiology at the University of Alberta, and I believe that he has made a big contribution to where I’m right now.

Bernadette Fox Lyford Cay International School, Bahamas My 3rd grade class got an opportunity to collaborate with her 5th grade class while they were learning about body systems. Mrs Fox saw it fitting not to just talk about body systems or show a video. She went out of her way and made contact with local organizations for animal organs such as liver, heart, brain etc. that the students could actually dissect and explore. This action I feel exemplifies what going above and beyond means. Additionally, although close to retirement, Mrs Fox consistently upgrades her pedagogical practice by seeking out professional development seminars and workshops to attend. Upon completion of any PD that she enrols in, she shares her learning with others. She inspires excellence.


Christina Ngaboli St Constantine’s International School, Arusha, Tanzania Christina learned basic Chinese (in addition to Swahili) to ensure she knew when her new student needed the bathroom or was feeling unwell and she stays late reading to children when a mother is late. She is always the first to offer a helping hand and a willing ear to her colleagues, like when my dog died and when I missed my grandchildren. She is the first to welcome newcomers and to volunteer with the Fun Day, the sports day, the school production, or to help make a costume for a child whose parent forgot it was dress-up day. Nursery and Reception students become enthusiastic life-long lovers of learning thanks to her.

Claire Bishop Charlotte Christian School, USA Last year my school hired a new Upper School Latin teacher. She has rocked our world. I have sat in Claire Bishop’s classroom and watched her mesmerize her students. She integrates technology like a rock star, walking around the classroom with iPad and stylus, the smart board at her command. For 50 minutes, she covers grammar, vocabulary, history, culture, and throws in a game, project or skit to bring it all together. It is a beautiful thing. Did I mention she converses in Latin? She is building a spoken Latin program. Her energy is endless and she is one of the most innovative teachers I have EVER met. I aspire to be just like her. I pray to the gods she never leaves our school.


Danni Mattiazzo Larrakeyah Primary School, Australia Danni Mattiazzo is the most dedicated teacher I have known. She organized a whole school STEAM Day, which involved students working in mixed aged groups across the school to solve a problem involving Christmas characters. The problem was that someone had damaged Santa’s sleigh and let the reindeers out, so how was he going to deliver the presents. Danni worked to organize the programme, developed videos so students could learn empathy, developed all the activities and assessment tasks, set up ‘crime scenes’ in the school (including one virtual reality) and worked with all teachers.

Dion Mulvey Gems World Academy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dion is an inspirational physics teacher. He is enthusiastic and relates everything to the ‘real world’ when he teaches. His ability to allow all of his students to inquire openly is a model for all. One example is when I encountered him in the elevator one day; he was standing on a weighing scale as the lift travelled up and down and videoing the effect on his weight of distance from the earth. I also have seen him inspiring students by calculating the energy of the sun and what he can do with a laser is awesome. He is always eager to help develop teachers professionally and is a true star and expert practitioner.


Dr. Mary Shiny P Paul Little Flower English School, Italy She is a wonderful person with the most dedication and patience that I have ever seen in my life. She has been sacrificing her life for the first migrant Cambridge International School in Rome, Italy. It opens the door for hundreds of grade c/d migrant workers in Italy, an opportunity to deliver an affordable English education to their children since it is too expensive in Rome. I am so proud to nominate Dr Mary – a selfless person who treats the children with unconditional love, care and positivity. She appointed teachers from 9 nations to bring multi-cultural heritage. The school started with 21 children in 2017, now it has 100.

Ewa Drobek Żmichowska 15th High School in Warsaw, Poland Ewa Drobek is not only a great teacher. She created two classes of theatrical and architectural profiles. She was the originator of the school program called “Theater Walker”, “Here I stand” – valuable cultural undertakings. She has also created “Żmichowska sings”, a project where a group of vocally talented students have the opportunity to record their songs in a professional music studio. Ewa Drobek is a tolerant and honest person. She devotes her private time to her students. I am very my educational path. I am confident that there is no better candidate for this award.


Farzana Momtaz Chittagong Grammar School, Bangladesh Her dedication and enthusiasm towards her profession has been praiseworthy. She has recently introduced a “student library” throughout the school. Students are asked to lend their favorite books for a year to the class. They all get to borrow one another’s books throughout the year. This is helping by promoting reading among students. In order to enhance vocabulary, she has asked all her students to prepare a personal dictionary for themselves and list all the new words that they will be learning throughout the year. She’s an amazing inspiration to her students and colleagues and an asset to the school.

Helen Comerford Lumen Christi Catholic College, Australia From supporting a student who has struggled with their sexuality to counselling students after the loss through suicide of a close friend, Helen walks with students through every difficulty they face and every celebration they share. She is uncompromising in advocating for students with disabilities and has created a truly inclusive environment for the students. She facilitated a course for teachers and Learning Assistants to learn more about behavioural management from a positive and proactive perspective, bringing opportunities for restorative justice in student-teacher relationships. Helen has the rare ability to fuse vision with practicality.


Hiba Abdulkalam Waad Academy School, Saudi Arabia Although she has a heavy load of 27 lessons weekly, she still walks in the hallways smiling and greeting everyone. Her spirit reflects a positive atmosphere in the school. Her lessons are enjoyable, engaging and effective. For example, when she taught a lesson on the heart, she bought a real goat heart and used it for explanation. Her students’ performance is always on or above average. I have never received one complaint from a student, parent, or colleague about her. I admire her work, and hope she receives the recognition she deserves.

Joanne Booth Beaumont Leys School, United Kingdom During year 11, I received a grade 6 in my chemistry mock exams when I was aiming for an 8 and after that I became very frustrated to the point where I couldn’t smile. Mrs Booth worked with me during breaks, lunches and after school to help me better prepare for my exams, but not only that, she also taught me how to believe in myself. She herself cried with happiness when she saw my grades improving and she cried with happiness when seeing me open my results. Mrs Booth was the only teacher to successfully help me to believe in myself and in that upsetting time, she was the one who brought my smile back and I will always be grateful to her for that.


Law Lay Leng Sri Kuala Lumpur International School, Malaysia Although Ms Law was ill in early 2019, her enthusiasm to return to the classroom environment was admirable, and any essays that were tasked to us were graded promptly even during her time away for recuperation. Ms Law carried out spontaneous self-reflection exercises with us, which helped us to become more aware of our study progression and moulded us into better souls. Moreover, she never failed to express her unwavering faith in her students and motivate us to succeed in our IGCSEs. My teacher is the amazing, caring and empathetic aunt we never knew we had.

Linda Deeb Antonine International School, Lebanon When I met her in Grade 11, she helped me find the light in everything. She has been a mentor, a friend, a sister and a teacher, all in one package. She doesn’t know how much she’s impacted my life and I truly owe being alive and breathing right now to her. I was a feather in the wind just going along. But when I met her, she helped me to become grounded and she’s helped me find myself again. I really owe everything to Miss Linda Deeb, she has no idea how she has affected my life and so many other people’s.


Melody McCambridge Northside Primary School, Botswana She enthusiastically joined me in a project of building a library for a local school and took this project to a new level. Melody involved her Grade 6 students by visiting the local school to learn together. She also managed to raise funds to buy more than 500 books for the new library and organized community days to cover the books and catalogue them. Melody is opening up the world of our students to the realities of our wider community and those less privileged. She is opening up the world for the students from the local school by helping to fill their library with books and exposing them to the world-class literature.

Shahriar Parvez Oxford International School Dhaka, Bangladesh Mr Parvez is the most dedicated teacher I’ve seen. He taught my son chemistry throughout his O and A Levels. I never saw him grow so much, as a learner and an individual, under anyone else. He was a tireless mentor, discussing syllabus topics and past papers night and day until he was assured that he had fully come to terms with the material. I remember him calling Mr Parvez before his Cambridge papers, and was always astonished at how calmly he talked him out of all his worries. Our son continued studying chemistry at university and is now completing a PhD, a testament to his inspiring mentorship.


Mohana Ram Murugiah SMK Perempuan Methodist, Malaysia When I was chosen to taken part in the regional storytelling competition, I had always asked Mr Mohana “why me”? And he answered “Why not you?” I never had confidence in myself until Mr Mohana became our English language teacher. He saw the potential in me that nobody did. I was very sure that I was going to fail, as I could not even memorise a line in the script. But Mr Mohana simplified my script and taught me the techniques of memorising it. Without his guidance, we would have not been the 1st Runner-up of the regional storytelling competition.

Namita Shah The Shri Ram School, Moulsari Campus, India Can you imagine all the country Heads in World War 2 living under one roof and listening to the orders of ‘Big Brother’? Can you imagine drafting the Treaty of Versailles? In Namita’s class, students don’t just study history, they live it. Namita believes that history needs to be felt to be understood. Which is why, most of her classes are a time-travel to the 20th century. Namita is one of the few teachers who doesn’t tell her students to “keep quiet”. She encourages them to speak and give their points of view and Namita’s teachings don’t just stop there; these classroom discussions lead to dinner table discussions with the parents, where her students, become the teachers.


Nicola Hill Slade Primary School, Tonbridge, United Kingdom Mrs Hill is the best teacher – she is so much fun and makes all our learning fun. She is also a football fan and we have lots of good talks about it, even though we support different teams. She has started a group called Look for a Book in Tonbridge and Hildenborough to get children in the local area reading more. She has hidden books all over the place – she even hid one right outside my house for me to find! And we have hidden some of our books we are too big for too. It’s lots of fun, like hide and seek but with books. Mrs Hill is really great and I really think she should win!

Nitesh Pandey Open Science Forum, India I had the privilege to meet Dr Henry Throop from NASA, senior member of “New Horizons” mission that went to Pluto. He was invited as a speaker for India’s second astrobiology conference that was coorganized by our Chemistry teacher, Nitesh Pandey. I would soon be an astrophysicist. Nitesh sir also created a YouTube channel so that we could do unlimited revisions of difficult topics. The interview series, an attempt by Nitesh sir to make chemistry more fun and engaging, made even those students who almost hated it initially, love chemistry.


Paul Douglas Crompton House School, United Kingdom My teacher has made my passion for geography unparalleled and incessant. Whilst being head of humanities at school, he is also the chairman of our local Geographical Association, meaning that in his own time he is continually obtaining excellent resources and support that goes beyond the specification for us. His passion for geography is contagious and he frees up his holidays to take us on trips, such as Iceland, that open up the world. He ensures that every student has the best chance of success and runs lunchtime drop-in sessions to ensure that no one is ever uncertain.

Pavan Gollakota National High Jakarta School, Indonesia From dropping watermelons from the school rooftop, to serious lectures in class, Mr Pavan always had new ways to teach us the different concepts of physics. Unlike other teachers, he makes sure to include fun experiments in the midst of the hectic schedule to finish the syllabus. Who would’ve expected that we would come in a classroom sticking candies to each end of a straw and taping them together horizontally to demonstrate the movement of waves? To top that off, his great enthusiasm and creative ways of conveying lessons made it less of a chore to learn physics IGCSE and A Level. Throughout the 4 years of being under his guidance, he never failed to outdo himself each year, giving his best in every class he taught.


Reyhan Olgun Kagithane High School, Turkey She was the type of person who worked miracles with her students. She took us to live performances of many Shakespeare plays. Plus, she started a theatre club and we performed Hamlet in English on stage! This was a life-changing experience as I grew up in a small, middle-class town in İstanbul. Now as a scholar with a PhD in literature, I organized the first and second Shakespeare Festival in Turkey in 2018 and second in 2019. Next year, I’ll be at MIT for a postdoc research to study Shakespeare in Turkey. The greatest debt I owe, and one I will continuously work to repay, is to Reyhan Olgun.

Ritika Rawat FirstSteps School, India Ritika is a facilitator who guides her students in all aspects within and beyond the curriculum. Her involvement with V, VI and VII graders in preparing for Saevus Eco-Achievers Science quiz, bagged them a Gold Medal in Chandigarh Zone and representation at National Level. She loves to take initiatives for organising fetes with games to see the smiles on students’ faces. She teaches science by linking it with everyday life activities and conducts practicals in the science lab as well as out in nature. With the students’ help, Ritika got the compost pit made in the school premises for the classes’ biodegradable waste and kitchen waste disposal.


Sara Tenler Thomas Jefferson High School, USA She is a tireless, fearless advocate for all students. Our school is one of the most diverse in the state of Washington, both in terms of race and socioeconomics. Sara believes that all students have the right to quality academics. She teaches her IB 20th century class in a way that gives every student the confidence, and capabilities to be successful. It’s not just the academics though, their social emotional health is her priority. Sara recently started a ‘You Talk, We Listen’ group, which is a forum for students to communicate to staff their hopes, concerns and wonderings in a safe and productive environment.

Sarah Kleven American International School of Kingston, Jamaica She uses the environment around her to inspire students to interact with science, like painting driftwood or using water bottles as an artistic recycling project to explain what is happening to the ocean. She collects bones, shells, and other items from beaches in order to let students touch and see scientific concepts. Everything in her classroom is such that students of all ages visit out of curiosity and leave delighted with something fun to share with friends. Sarah has inspired students to make a garden, start a composting program, speak to the government about clean water, and treat worms with more respect.


Shumaila Shahzadi Habitat School Ajman Al-Jurf 2, United Arab Emirates When I came to my new school, I was faced with strange things, such as language, classmates, and most important was a new curriculum, because my previous school’s curriculum was not in English. I got fewer marks in many subjects and a very bad mark in SST – I got 2/40 marks. I appreciate all my teachers, but my class teacher more because she was helping me so much. She spent her time for me, I used to go to the staff room and she would explain the lessons line by line. With her support, I finally got good marks in the final term and that 2/40 changed to 73/80. She was supporting us academically, behaviourally, morally.

Surya Subha Banerjee Calcutta International School, India In India, we have a Children’s Day celebration on the 14th of November. Every school does something special, like organise a picnic, programme or movie, etc. for all students. This year in school, we went for the movie Lion King and had cake afterwards. To much surprise, Mr Banerjee had written personal, handwritten letters to every single one of us! In yellow, enclosed envelopes, there was bright neon green coloured sheet. On the sheet, Mr Banerjee had written us each our very own appreciation letters with our strengths etc. mentioned in it. It made everyone so happy. How hard he must’ve worked to do that for everyone! At any turn, he does not refrain from going an extra mile to help any of us.


Teri Eves Island School, Hong Kong Ms Eves cares a lot about her students, both personally and academically, and goes out of her way to accompany us to competitions. She’s played a large role in connecting Island School, an international school, to the local community by organising events with our neighbouring local school (Ng Yuk Secondary School), which range from Community English, writing stories together, basketball games and gardening walls. I believe Ms Eves pushed me out of my comfort zone when she taught me English and has helped me become a global citizen.

Tetiana Suleimanova Pavlograd School 9, Ukraine Mrs Tetiana turns every lesson into a mini-performance. We sing irregular verb raps. We represented ourselves as realtors and sold haunted houses on Halloween. During studying the problem of global warming, Mrs Tetiana turned the room into a crime scene and us into detectives. We investigated evidence and the case. She created a courtroom in the classroom, where I was a judge and my classmates were juries, defence and prosecution lawyers, criminals and spectators. We analyzed our mistakes that we made during the test and passed the sentence on what marks we deserved. She definitely deserves to win. I want to dedicate my life to teaching. I want to be like her.


Vineeta Garg SRDAV Public School, Delhi Looking at the interest of students, she has designed Android apps, blogs, gaming apps, audio-visual books etc. so that students can learn anytime, anywhere at their own pace and on the device of their choice. Her e-content is available for free and is benefitting thousands of students across the world. She has written and composed her own songs on coding so that students can overcome the fear of learning programming languages. Her “Robotics-For-All� campaign has helped to plant the seed of STEM in a young workforce, including special needs and underprivileged students

Zunaira Abubakr Lahore grammar school, EME branch, Pakistan I suffered through depression and this affected my grades a lot. Our English teacher told us that she was here to help us if we were facing any issues. At that moment, I needed someone who was mature enough to fully understand me and help me, so I looked up to her. I went to her and told her about my issue and cried a lot. She comforted me and told me that everyone faces problems, but losing hope is never an option. She motivated me so much that I came out of that state of depression and my grades highly improved. She strengthened me and dedicated herself to becoming my staircase towards hope, out of darkness.

Video entries

Please click on the boxes/arrows to watch the nominations


María Inés Bertoni

Omaira Berdugo

Ali Haider

St. Nicholas’ School Argentina

Marymount School Colombia

Resource Academia International School Shaheen Campus Pakistan

Valerie Smith

Annamma Lucy


Our Own English High School Sharjah Boys’ United Arab Emirates

If you want to find out when the next Dedicated Teacher Awards open, go to dedicatedteacher.cambridge.org

Ruchita Kumar

Samara Farrukh

Kennedy Ombuni

Asha Modern School India

Beaconhouse Potohar Campus, Islamabad Pakistan

St. Constantine International School Tanzania

Profile for Cambridge University Press Education

2020 Dedicated Teacher Awards ebook  

Teachers play a vital role in the lives of their students and often make a difference without even knowing it. The Dedicated Teacher Awards...

2020 Dedicated Teacher Awards ebook  

Teachers play a vital role in the lives of their students and often make a difference without even knowing it. The Dedicated Teacher Awards...