When you think about it, every great community has their teachers to thank for everything they are able to accomplish. Teachers provide communities with the skills and knolwledge they need to accomplish extraordinary things.
So we would like to thank and celebrate every teacher, including the thousands of Global Teacher Prize nominees and applicants, the top 50 finalists, the top 10 finalists, and our winner Nancie Atwell for their commitment to their community and beyond.
Here are just some of the ways teachers are making our communities great, exemplified by our Global Teacher Prize winner and finalists from communities around the world.
Educating the Next Generation of Leaders
Nancie Atwell, Global Teacher Prize winner and founder and teacher at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Maine, USA talks about ensuring everyone in her community has access to a good education. “We actively seek children from underprivileged families, maintain a low tuition rate, and also provide generous financial aid. Almost 80% of CTL families received some form of tuition assistance last year. Many live below the U.S.federal poverty line and pay no tuition at all. Because we are a demonstration school, our student body represents a purposeful diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds and ability levels, with parents who work as farmers, carpenters, house cleaners and painters, soldiers, fishermen and lobstermen, landscapers, nurses and physicians, teachers, retail workers, and small-business owners.”
Kiran Bir Sethi, the founder of Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, recognizes the importance of developing ‘citizen leaders.’ “When children graduate from Riverside, I do not want them to be only engineers, doctors or designers. Rather, I want them to be citizen leaders who, through their work, create a positive impact in the world around them. Developing a citizen leader; making children care for each other and care for the world — is the core of what we do, even in our academic program. The emphasis of the current educational system is on students being ‘the fastest, the strongest, the smartest,’ and not on teaching students to care about child abuse, inequality and gender bias.”
Madenjit Singh of Indonesia, founder and teacher at the Science of Life Studies 24/7 (SOLS 24/7) says, “We have had more than 200 students in this program. They feel equal to all humans. They are the main people running SOLS activities everywhere. At one time they were learning from foreigners, at another, they were teaching foreigners. This is true oneness and a massive empowerment to be leaders with character in their own country.”
Naomi Volain, a teacher at Springfield Central High School in Massachusetts, USA uses her field trips to create environmentally conscious leaders. “Well educated young people are the upcoming leaders and stewards of the world. Education must be constantly improved for all young people, as they build the future which is sure to change as they do. In teaching various angles in environmental science, I feel I’m improving student education with the focus on the planet and the future we share.”
Jacque Kahura is a teacher at Bofa Primary school and the founder of Lifting the Barriers in Kenya, and is creating leaders who know how to collaborate with others. “Students consult; work in small groups and share limited learning resources including reference books and maps. While working in small groups, there is the constant deconstruction and rebuilding of objects and ideas that may be seen to be static and fixed, enabling students to explore, investigate and try again, for each interaction leads to even better ideas and results.”
Supporting All Community Members
Guy Etienne is a teacher at College Catts Pressoir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti who believes it’s important for students to work on their own projects to serve the community. “Older students for example set up a radio station at the school in order to share their vision on the world; as part of this, they set up a project for the blind — the best programs on the history of Haiti will be recorded on a CD for the Association of the Blind. They say that the blind can thus read through their eyes.”
Richard Spencer is a biology teacher at Middlesbrough College in the United Kingdom who wants to make sure everyone, regardless of their background, is recognized for their excellence. “I think it is important to establish a sense of local pride and achievement, so that students can see that people from humble origins can achieve great things beyond their local community, provided they have the confidence, drive and feeling of self-worth. I have helped gain recognition for locally-born scientist, Sir Anthony Carlisle, who became an eminent surgeon in London and who will be named as one of ten recipients of a blue plaque to commemorate his extensive (though largely forgotten) contribution to science.”
Changing Minds in the Community for the Better
Phalla Neang is a teacher and the founder of Phnom Penh Thmey in Cambodia who worked to remove the stigma associated with blindness in her country. “In 1993, Krousar Thmey opened the school and I became the first Braille teacher in the history of the country. At that time, blind people were completely marginalized and didn’t have access to education, because people believed they had sinned in their past life and were incapable of learning. Visually-impaired people in Cambodia are now recognized and have the right to education and the ability to learn. As a consequence, they are much more integrated into society and feel more confident. We also managed to evolve society’s opinion.”
Stephen Ritz is a teacher at Public School 55 in New York City’s South Bronx, USA where he’s changing the community by teaching his students to grow healthy foods. “When you teach children about nature, they learn to nurture and when they learn to nurture, we as a society collectively embrace our better nature.”
Aziz Royesh is a teacher at Marefat High School in Kabul, Afghanistan, one of the many schools he has founded; his goal is to create a more peaceful country through educating global citizens. “I believe that the notion of global citizenship means embracing the people around you, regardless of sex, gender, race, or ethnicity, and harboring a sense of responsibility about the world. This vision helped us develop our particular definition of civic education in the context of Afghanistan, where cultural and religious bigotry, exacerbated by the three decades of ethnic and sectarian violence, posed an enormous challenge to the idea of global citizenship.”
Thank you to all teachers around the world — #TeachersMatter!