Founder, Managing Director, Caye Caulker Ocean Academy
Nominee: Tony Wagner
Heidi Curry co-founded Ocean Academy as the first and only high school on the island of Caye Caulker, Belize. Now in its sixth year, Ocean Academy has become a model school within Belize and internationally—winning 14 awards in the 2014-2015 school year for its innovative programs that engage students to find and follow their passion through social enterprise, mentors, and real-world applications. Heidi is dedicated to universal education as a means to end systemic poverty. Her work has resulted in 90 percent local high school enrollment compared to the 32 percent rate prior to Ocean Academy’s opening. Because school is only partially funded in Belize, she has led the development of a financing model that intertwines student-led hotel, restaurant, and tourism services within the school campus to serve as a real-world learning laboratory for skills ranging from engineering to culinary arts, air-conditioning repair to accounting, and fly fishing to marine biology. Heidi graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and earned her master’s degree in education from Boise State University. She was awarded the Bernard & Audrey Rapoport Fellowship for research conducted in Peru.