“When students feel the joy that comes from helping others, they grow to be the world changers of tomorrow.”–Michael Soskil
On the 17th of February, Stephen Hawking announced the Top 10 Global Teacher Prize finalists. The ten finalists are truly incredible and inspiring. They are a diverse group of people representing 5 continents, 9 countries, a wide range of subjects and teaching in diverse settings. In the build up to the event and announcement of the winner, in Dubai on the 13th of March, we will be featuring each of our top 10 teachers on their own special day.
Today we feature Michael Soskil
Finding Joy in Helping Others
In Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, 60% of families live in poverty and a quarter of the children at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School have at least one parent who is dependent on alcohol or drugs. In such an environment, how do you get young adults to engage with education?
Enter Michael Soskil. As head teacher, he has devised a methodology that produces results. As he explains, “The key to student retention of learning is an emotional connection to the content they are learning.”
Making those emotional connections has taken his students on a journey of discovery that crosses boundaries and expands horizons. They have collaborated with students overseas to combat child labour and fight ocean pollution. They’ve raised over $12,000 for water filters for children in Nairobi, and contributed to many other important causes.
Through Michael’s initiatives, his Pennsylvania town has reached out to the world. “Last year I helped students connect live with over 70 countries, all 7 continents, and NASA astronauts on the International Space Station.”
It’s about helping students develop into globally-aware, socially-conscious citizens. And it produces results. His students have excelled in exams, exceeding the averages on state tests every year.
It has also produced recognition for Michael, both in America and overseas. He has worked with international corporations such as Microsoft and Discovery Communications, taken part in UN summit talks and been honoured by the President of the United States.
Now his students are tackling hunger through a Global Garden Project, an initiative he has devised in which students in Venezuela, Dominica, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, Nepal, the United States, and Morocco learn through gardening and use their school gardens to benefit local communities.
As Michael says, “When students feel the joy that comes from helping others, they grow to be the world changers of tomorrow.”