THE VARKEY FOUNDATION GLOBAL TEACHER PRIZE was designed to celebrate some of the most important, under-appreciated people on our planet: teachers. This year, the prize was won by a truly amazing woman by the name of Hanan Al Hroub. Al Hroub was born into a refugee camp near Bethlehem, and decided to become a teacher after her own children were traumatized after witnessing a shooting on their way home from school.
She went on to work with children who were traumatized by the violence they’ve experienced in their short lives. The work she’s undertaken has helped a lot of kids cope with their trauma through the use of games and play as a way to reduce tension. Her work has actually reduced violence in her school, and has undoubtedly made a difference in the lives of her students. Her hope is that education can be used to eventually eliminate violence altogether.
And Al Hroub was in some pretty incredible company, too: other nominees included a Mumbai teacher who helps teenagers born in the city’s red light district, a Kenyan teacher who has helped keep students from becoming radicalized, and a Finnish teacher who developed an entirely new way of teaching math (you can read the full list of teachers here).
The award was announced by Pope Francis at a ceremony in Dubai, and was well-attended by international figures like Tony Blair, Prince William, Salma Hayek, and Matthew McConaughey, with video messages appearing from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden. The organization tries to make the ceremony particularly fancy and high profile to create an Oscars-like atmosphere, but for an arguably much more important industry: teaching. The winner of the prize receives $1 million.