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Celebrating World Teachers’ Day: Recognising Dr Mariëtte Wheeler’s Remarkable Achievements

World Teacher's Day 2023_ALSA_SANAP _Mariette Wheeler (1)

On October 5th, the world comes together to celebrate World Teachers’ Day, a special occasion recognized by UNESCO to honor the invaluable contributions of educators worldwide. This year, the focus is on the theme “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.” In line with this theme, we are proud to highlight the remarkable achievements of Dr Mariëtte Wheeler, a dedicated teacher from South Africa who has been recognised as one of the Top 50 teachers in the world and shortlisted for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize 2023.

Dr Mariette Wheeler was chosen from 7000 nominations (from 130) countries as one of 50 candidates in the running for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2023.

Dr Mariëtte Wheeler’s Inspiring Journey:

Dr Mariëtte Wheeler’s journey as an educator is truly inspiring. With a legacy within the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP), she has demonstrated her passion for exploration and research. Having overwintered twice on Marion Island as an ornithological field assistant, she brings her firsthand experiences and knowledge as a Zoologist into her classroom, making her teaching activities engaging and relevant. 

70th Marion Island Overwintering Team.
Dr Mariëtte Wheeler on the 70th Marion Island Overwintering Team (2013 to 2014).

Combining Passions and Empowering Learners:

Dr Wheeler’s teaching approach is characterised by her ability to combine her two main passions: biological research and teaching. By incorporating real-life examples and her extensive expertise, she creates an inspiring learning environment for her students. Her passion, combined with her empathy and patience, has made her a teacher whom learners look up to and feel inspired by.

Recognition and Achievements:

Dr  Wheeler’s exceptional qualities have not gone unnoticed. She has been previously selected as one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans (2012) and was honored with South Africa’s 2021 National Best Teacher Award. Additionally, she had the privilege of representing South Africa at the virtual UNESCO regional celebration of World Teacher’s Day. Now, she has taken her dedication to education to an international level by being shortlisted as one of the Top 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2023. Her commitment to change and her ability to inspire others make her a true champion for education.

Dr Wheeler at Protea Heights Academy:

Currently, Dr Mariëtte Wheeler teaches Life and Marine Sciences at Protea Heights Academy (PHA). Her expertise and passion for these subjects have undoubtedly enriched the learning experiences of her students. As she competes for the Global Teacher Prize, we eagerly await to see how she plans to utilise the prize funds to further enhance her teaching and make a positive impact on education.

To conclude: 

On this World Teachers’ Day, let us celebrate the remarkable achievements of Dr Mariëtte Wheeler, a teacher who embodies the qualities we need for the education we want. Her dedication, passion, and ability to inspire learners have earned her recognition both nationally and internationally. We wish her all the best in the Global Teacher Prize 2023 and eagerly anticipate the positive changes she will continue to bring to the field of education. To learn more about Dr Wheeler and her plans for the prize funds, click here.


Feature image of Dr Mariëtte Wheeler supplied, edited by Anche Louw.

Anche Louw, Co-Principal Investigator of Antarctic Legacy of South Africa and Digital Marketing and Communications Manager of the South African Polar Research Infrastructure, 05 October 2023. 

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