Dr. Joseph Underwood, a teacher at Miami Senior High School, is one of only 50 finalists selected from 30,000 nominees from around the globe for the Varkey Foundation’s 2018 Global Teacher Prize, the London-based foundation announced on Dec. 12.
The million dollar Global Teacher Prize was established in 2013 after a study conducted by the foundation showed that the status of teachers had dropped in many countries. The prize recognizes an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, and aims to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.
Dr. Underwood began his teaching career as the head athletic trainer at Miami Senior High School while also teaching science, drama, English to non-English speakers and, eventually, television production. After experiencing great success motivating reluctant students into the area of entertainment technologies, in 2000, Dr. Underwood moved into the classroom full time.
Not only were many of his students beginning to see the value of a college degree, but those who were not considering college also saw opportunities in an exciting field where they could demonstrate and use their creativity in television, music videos, broadcasting, sports, filmmaking, and more.
Miami Senior High School can now boast of having graduates working at the highest levels in the entertainment technologies industry, including: a news anchor in New York City, an associate producer at CBS Sports, and an art director for a national television series (Burn Notice).
These former students started out by producing video reports for their daily, live broadcast seen by over 3,000 viewers. As a collaborative group, Dr. Underwood’s students produce approximately 165 live shows each year in English with a Spanish segment that also is produced daily. Dr. Underwood has received numerous awards in his long career and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2007.
“I could not be more pleased to represent Miami High and Miami-Dade County Public Schools on the world stage. I truly believe this outstanding recognition is reflective of over 30 years helping my students prepare for success for both college and career pathways,” Dr. Underwood said. “I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity.”
Dr. Underwood is a 2018 NEA Foundation Global Fellow. This is a year-long effort focused on global competency.
The Varkey Foundation has expressed that the lack of education is a major factor behind many of the social, political, economic and health issues faced by the world today and that education has the power to reduce poverty, prejudice and conflict.
The Global Teacher Prize winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills forum in Dubai on Mar. 18.