Palestinian Teacher Awarded $1 Million
Susannah Cullinane of CNN reports that an elementary teacher who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp has won a $1 million prize recognizing the “outstanding contribution” she has made to her profession.
Hanan Al Hroub, from Bethlehem in the West Bank, was awarded the Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai Sunday (March 13). Hroub accepted the award “as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular” (CNN).
Pope Francis announced via video conference that Hroub had won the award. It is the second year the prize has been awarded. Last year’s winner was Nancie Atwell, from Maine in the U.S. The winner is chosen by a global panel that includes educators, entrepreneurs and scientists.
“Believe in your ideas, work on them, convince people of your ideas, challenge the whole world, convince people of your ideas so you can spread them and you will find yourself here,” she said.
Hroub became a teacher after her children and husband were shot at on their way home from school. The traumatic experience left Hroub feeling alone in her attempts to guide her children back to a sense of normalcy, and caused her to take the initiative to become an educator. “It transformed my children’s behaviors, personalities and academics,” she said. “I felt that I was alone in getting my children through this. No teachers had helped us get my children back on track” (CNN).
Hroub’s family started inventing games at home and inviting neighbors’ children to participate. Gradually, the children’s behavior and grades began to improve, and now Hroub teaches using play to help her students reject violence.
“Some children may not directly experience things like arrests, or assault, checkpoints and all the violence in our country, however they see it on the screens and in social media and that still affects them,” Hroub says (CNN). “I tell all the teachers, whether they are Palestinian or around the world: ‘Our job is humane, its goals are noble. We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education’.”
Hroub’s statements coupled with her career as an educator are inspiring to teachers around the world. Even in a war torn region like the West Bank, Hroub has found a way to transform the lives of many children to allow them to cope with and transcend the violence of their surroundings.
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