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Maine teacher wins $1 million education prize

By Amy R. Connolly

BANGOR, Maine, March 15 (UPI) -- A Maine educator who founded an innovative school that focuses on reading was awarded what's been called the Nobel Prize of teaching, along with a hefty $1 million award that comes with it.

Nancy Atwell accepted the Global Teacher Prize on Sunday in Dubai, saying she was honored to accept the award.

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Atwell, 63, was lauded for her innovative methods for improving reading education, which includes her school, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the push for her students to read up to 40 books a year. She rose to the top of a pool of some 5,000 candidates and 10 finalists for the distinction.

In giving out the award, former President Bill Clinton said, "I think the most important thing this prize has done is re-awaken the world's appreciation of the importance of teachers."

"One of them is about to get a big payday," Clinton said moments before handing out the award.

Atwood told the Bangor Daily News in January if she won she would use the money to better her school, buy more books and provide more student scholarships.

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"Most of this money will go into tuition assistance," she said after the awards ceremony. "We need to keep our books current so that our kids can keep reading 40 books a year, but also so the rest of the children in America can stay current with the advice of our kids."

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