Oleksandr Zhuk

Dzherelo school, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

Oleksandr  Zhuk

Oleksandr never thought that he would become a teacher. Since childhood, he dreamed of becoming an economist: he loved games of counting money and always acted as a banker in children’s plays. So it was no surprise that he ended up studying economics at university. However, in his third year of studies, he by chance visited a boarding school for children with hearing impairment. That 20-minute visit turned Oleksandr’s life upside down: he became much more curious about how such children could be helped to pursue education and become independent, given the communication difficulties they had. This curiosity moved him to pursue psychology instead, with the aim of working with children having special needs.

Eventually, Oleksandr went to work as a social care teacher in a boarding school and started helping both children from poor families and children with disabilities find employment and enter higher education. However, he still did not know sign language, which was proving a barrier with hearing-impaired students, so at the same time he enrolled at Dragomanov Kyiv Pedagogical University to study the language. He saw during these studies that children absorbed information better when working on a computer, and understood that he could achieve much more in terms of their future professional prospects and communication skills by centring his teaching on information technology.

Oleksandr now works as a computer science teacher in Dzherelo Specialised General Education Boarding School. In 2018, his students started using the mobile app Climate Drops, where they register their environmentally friendly actions for individual and group awards. This enables the class to address a large audience of people and create public interest in climate change through the use of innovative technologies. Outside the classroom, the students make 3D virtual trips and also use the app Kahoot! to boost their knowledge with interactive educational quizzes.

Ranked in the Top 30 Under 30 by Kyiv Post 2018, Oleksandr was awarded the title "Honored Teacher of Ukraine" by Presidential Decree, and was also Winner of the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine in 2018. If he wins the Global Teacher Prize, he would use the funds to host events for children with special educational needs, Down syndrome or hearing impairments in the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine. He would also like to create a national educational centre for sharing the experiences of children with special educational needs.