Memphis teacher nominated for $1M award

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - How does $1 million sound? A Shelby County teacher is months away from learning if she will win a prestigious award worth that much money.

Dr. Melissa Collins is a second-grade teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School.

She said she could hardly believe it when she found out that she was a candidate for this prestigious international teaching award.

Teaching is more than just a job for Collins, and she's hoping to bring the award home to Memphis.

"I am passionate about students, they bring a very unique gift and talent, I want to allot those potentials and so it is a calling - a calling over my life," Collins said.

It's a calling that's lead her to 17 years in the classroom, and all of her hard work is paying off.

"I am so honored to represent my school, district, city, state and of course my country," Collins said.

She's one of the 50 finalists out of 30,000 applicants for a $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

"This would have to be the biggest accomplishment," Collins said. "I never thought that a teacher could be up for $1 million."

Collins is one of six finalists from the United States. The Global Teacher Prize is awarded to a teacher who made an outstanding contribution to their profession.

If she wins, she says she already has big plans for the money.

"I want us to have a big STEM fair where everybody can come and just get a feel of the importance of STEM education," Collins said. "If we want our students to be able to compete globally, STEM education is the way."

If she is named in the top 10, she will travel to Dubai in March where the winner of this $1 million award will be presented.

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