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The annual Global Teacher Prize, which comes with a million-dollar cheque, was awarded Wednesday to an American teacher from the US state of Maryland in recognition of her efforts to educate and mentor immigrant pupils from poor backgrounds.
Keishia Thorpe, who teaches English at the International High School Langley Park in Bladensburg, was awarded the prize by French actress Isabelle Huppert at the headquarters of UN education and culture agency UNESCO in Paris.
Thorpe dedicated the prize, financed by the Varkey Foundation, to "every little black boy and girl that looks like me and every child in the world that feels marginalised and has a story like mine and felt they never mattered."
"Education is a human right and all children should be entitled to have access to it," she said in a recorded message.
Thorpe, who is originally from Jamaica, has been a teacher for 17 years.
She won a sports scholarship to Howard University in Washington and, in addition to her daily teaching duties, runs charities helping immigrant or refugee children access educational funding as well as food banks.
"Every child needs a champion, an adult who will never, ever give up on them," Thorpe said in her acceptance speech.