A professional athlete-turned-teacher has been named one of the world’s top 50 educators in a $1 million competition dubbed the 'Nobel Prize of teaching.'
Christian Williams, a 28-year-old Ashburton teacher, is one of only two educators in Australia to be picked from 8,000 applicants from 148 countries for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize.
Christian chose to study with VU because of its elite sports program, knowing he would one day trade the sporting field for a classroom.
However it was while he was captain of Australia’s junior lacrosse team, that he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, after often coming close to death by pushing his body to the limit. The athletically-blessed Christian adopted a succession of new sports he thought his heart could handle. While trying to qualify for archery for London’s Olympics his doctors insist he stop or die.
Christian credits VU for much of his teaching success since it accommodated his busy training schedule when he was a professional athlete, and also supported him when he was ill. He did the final year of his Bachelor of Education from a hospital bed – completing his teaching degree in 2011.
Christian began teaching full-time at St Michael’s Primary School in 2012, and was immediately recognised as an emerging leader. In 2015, he was named Victoria/Tasmania Teacher of the Year, as well as a Young Australian of the Year finalist.
“I give my students everything I have. I have always felt I need to leave a mark on the world.”
Principal Marisa Matthys says Christian’s passion to bring out the best in his students is contagious. His innovative classroom activities have included running a real café as a social enterprise.
Christian also helps develop state education policy in his expert areas of IT and mathematics.
In March 2016 was a finalist in the Global Teacher Awards held in Dubai, where he collaborated with the other top 50 teachers in the world to improve global education systems.