ALEXANDRIA, La. (WNTZ) — With 7,000 worldwide nominations and 50 finalists from several countries, only four finalists hail from the United States. Lacey Hoosier, a science teacher at Buckeye High School, is one of these distinguished finalists in the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize.

The goal of this global recognition program, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is to highlight the accomplishments of the very best teachers worldwide and showcase how their work elevates the profession, positively impacting their communities.

Hoosier, who has been teaching for 18 years exclusively in Rapides Parish, is among these exceptional educators who continuously develop themselves and their students for the better. Her commitment to STEM education and her ability to empower students set her apart.

Having built a STEM program from scratch, Hoosier has secured $70,000 in funding through grants over the years. Her tenacity goes beyond, as she has also created an outdoor classroom where students can conduct their investigations and develop a deeper connection to their environment.

Lacey Hoosier

Notably, her STEM students won a national competition to collaborate with NASA, building an experiment sent into the stratosphere this summer. This experiment will collect data on UV rays through sensors they coded and designed.

In addition to being named a Top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalist, Hoosier received the Louisiana Science Teachers Association’s “Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year” award. Furthermore, she is a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science.

As a finalist, Hoosier was invited to Paris, France, where the Top 10 finalists and the winner were revealed. Reflecting on her experience, she says, “I came back from Paris inspired by the other finalists. Many are working in schools with much fewer resources than we have here in the United States.” Now, Hoosier plans to create STEM boxes with her students that can be sent to third-world countries, aiming to make STEM education more accessible and interactive.

Her drive and high expectations have created a learning environment where both she and her students thrive.