Warren Sparrow, the head of information and communication technology at Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School, is one of 50 finalists in the running for what has been dubbed the Nobel Prize in teaching.
“I can’t put into words what a great honour this is. I am humbled,” he said on Tuesday.
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He celebrated with his wife over a glass of wine after recently being informed that he had been selected from more than 8 000 applicants from 148 countries.
The winner will walk away with a cool U$1m. The awards recognise an “exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society”.
Sparrow, 43, a former maths teacher who now specialises in eLearning support, is no stranger to top honours. In 2012, he was the recipient of a Western Cape Teaching Award for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology Enhanced Teaching, and won a number of ICT awards.
The teaching bug bit when he started teaching Sunday school at 15. His teaching career has spanned almost two decades. He has been teaching at Rondebosch for 13 years.
“It’s something that I always wanted to do,” he said.
While he taught maths for a good part of his career, information technology became his passion.
“I like that technology is always evolving. What we use this year could be outdated by next year,” he said.
Sparrow shares his expertise with teachers at schools with scarce resources through his website www.wsparrow.co.za, where they can access free resources for classes.
He “team-teaches” with teachers in their classrooms and shows them how technology can be used in lessons, and runs short weekly courses to demonstrate Web 2.0 tools, software, hardware, and ideas for the classroom. In the evenings he holds computer classes for adults.
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Should he win, he intends investing part of his prize money in technologically under-resourced schools.
“I would like to donate tablets and laptops and infrastructural support for teachers to use for the benefit of their learners,” he explained.
Sparrow dreams of taking his family overseas to experience different cultures and see other parts of the world.
Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer described Sparrow’s placement in the top 50 as an “extraordinary achievement”.
Colleen Henning from St John’s College in Johannesburg also made the final 50. The winner would be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March next year. – News24