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Palestinian teacher wins $1 million Global Teacher Prize

By Amy R. Connolly   |   March 13, 2016 at 3:20 PM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 13 (UPI) -- A Palestinian teacher who specializes in helping children traumatized by violence was awarded the $1 million Global Teacher Prize on Sunday, beating 8,000 applicants worldwide to take the top honors.

Hanan Al Hroub grew up in a Bethlehem refugee camp, where she regularly witnessed and was exposed to violence. Years later, as a mother, she went into education as a career after her children were left traumatized by a shooting they witnessed on their way home from school.

"Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children's behavior, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school," said the Varkey Foundation, the Dubai-based organization which started the award last year.

Today a teacher at Samiha Khalil High School in Al-Bireh, Palestine, Hroub uses approaches she developed to get through to children. Using her book, We Play and Learn, she focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasises the importance of literacy, the foundation said.

"She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use," award organizers said.

Last year, Nancie Atwell, an English teacher from Maine, was the first to claim the prize.

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