Akash Patel began his teaching career in very small rural communities in Oklahoma where people had never seen or met “a brown Indian guy who spoke five languages and had traveled to over 50 countries”. He used his travel experiences to design all of his lessons. For example, he used his experiences of working with elephants in South Asia to teach children to make elephant poopoopaper and map elephant DNA to study poaching patterns. He currently teaches Spanish at a Title 1 ACE (Accelerating Campus Excellence) 100% low socioeconomic middle school in Dallas and has previously taught at a similar elementary school in Oklahoma City. In both schools, his students have come from very difficult backgrounds and have included gang members, drug addicts and juvenile delinquents. The majority of his students at both schools had never traveled outside the US.
In his first year of teaching, he was recognized by the State Department of Education and the Multicultural Education Institute as the January 2015 Educator of the Month and the 2015 Multicultural Teacher of the Year for promoting global citizenship in his classroom and achieving a successful academic turnaround. In December 2017, Patel was selected from over 30,000 nominations as one of the top 50 teachers around the world and shortlisted as a finalist for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million prize that is awarded annually to one teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession: https://bit.ly/2JKeXF5 All 50 teachers traveled to Dubai in April where they were inducted as Varkey Teacher Ambassadors. VTAs are role models who promote best practices in education and lead the way in developing future learning techniques. This elite group of super-teachers drives positive activity around founding best practices, establishing new ways to learn, being a role model for the next generation and sharing information about the wider education community.
Akash has connected all of his classrooms with people and professionals worldwide using virtual platforms such as Facebook video calling, Skype and Google Hangout. At first, he started inviting his friends from social media platforms. Eventually, he mobilized over 1,000 volunteers from over 150 countries to join his Global Connect database at the Happy World Foundation (www.happyworldfoundation.us), a Texas based global education nonprofit he founded after the passing of his twin brother Anand Happy Patel.
Patel frequently speaks at regional, national and international conferences about his classroom experience. He has also trained over 5,000 teachers to use the Global Connect database and other multicultural programs. Today, thousands of American children travel to countries worldwide through Happy World Foundation’s global education programs.