Mark VondracekSubmitted photo

Mark Vondracek, a physics teacher at Evanston Township High School, is among 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million award that will be given to one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. The Varkey GEMS Foundation (Global Education Management System) announced the finalists, including 16 U.S. teachers, after receiving 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries.

Deemed the “World’s Best Teacher” award, the Global Teacher Prize is open to teachers in every school in every country. According to the GEMS Foundation, applicants are judged on how they open up their pupils’ minds, how much they contribute to the community, and how much they encourage others to become teachers. Dr. Vondracek made the shortlist in December and his biography is available online at

“Mark Vondracek is a master teacher,” remarked ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon. “ETHS was so fortunate when he agreed to join our faculty in 1998, and his students each year acknowledge how extraordinary he is.

“This recognition affirms what we have known for a long time: Mark is truly one of the ‘world’s best teachers,’” said Dr. Witherspoon.