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‘I was born for this’ - Jamaica-based American in running for world’s most dedicated teacher

Published:Friday | December 20, 2019 | 12:40 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Sarah Kleven, biology teacher at AISK, has been shortlisted for the world’s most dedicated teacher.
Sarah Kleven, biology teacher at AISK, has been shortlisted for the world’s most dedicated teacher.

Sarah Kleven’s “jaw hit the ground” when she received an email on Wednesday informing her that she was among 50 teachers shortlisted internationally for the ‘world’s most dedicated teacher’ award.

The Dedicated Teacher Awards are given by the United Kingdom-based Cambridge University Press to recognise teachers for the vital role they play in the lives of students. This year, there were more than 6,000 nominations from 97 countries.

“This is like super, super special,” Kleven, teacher at the American International School of Kingston (AISK), said yesterday in an interview with The Gleaner.

Beginning her career eight years ago, Kleven, who is an American, said that teaching is her calling.

“I think I was born to be a teacher in all honesty. ... It comes very natural,” said Kleven, who teaches international baccalaureate (IB) biology year one and two, as well as environmental systems and society.

She also teaches 10th-grade biochemistry.

The 38-year-old, who has been teaching in Jamaica for the past two academic years, had nothing negative to say about her experience inside and outside of the classroon.

“Oh, it’s been fantastic … . I have a diverse group of students and they’re curious and excited to learn, and it’s been absolutely lovely.

“I love being able to jump in the car and go to a beach, or I can go up in the mountain and explore, and the food and the energy and dance ... honestly, I really, really love Jamaica,” she said.

Kleven said that this is her last academic year in Jamaica, as she will start a new job in Italy next year.

Her colleague, Peter Abrikian, who teaches IB drama at the upper St Andrew-based school, believes that she is deserving of the nomination.

“She obviously has a heart for the students, you know. She goes above and beyond the call of duty … .

“She’s not afraid to look silly in front of her students. She does things like makes up songs and dances while teaching biology. There is nothing that she won’t try or nothing that she won’t do,” he said.