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Prize Recipient Hopes to Combat Violence Through Education

By Monica E. Reichard and Gabriela J. Siegal, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative celebrated Palestinian schoolteacher Hanan Al Hroub as the second recipient of the Global Teacher Prize in a discussion Thursday night.

The prize, which is funded through the Varkey Foundation, provides Al Hroub with $1 million that she plans to invest in providing teachers with resources to nurture students in at-risk areas.

The event, which was held in both English and Arabic as part of the Education School's Askwith forum seminars, explored Al Hroub’s work in using creative teaching methods to combat emotional trauma and violence. Fernando M. Reimers, a professor at the GSE, moderated the discussion with Al Hroub.

Al Hroub’s efforts to support traumatized children in areas prone to violence began with the recovery of her own two children after they witnessed a shooting in which their father was injured.

"The main factor was that I became the instructor, or teacher, of my own children because I could not find assistance from academia or my own government… I put myself in the shoes of other people in similar circumstances and I wanted to help,” Al Hroub said through a translator.

Both Al Hroub and Reimers agreed that a quality education extends beyond the classroom to help students develop self-awareness and social skills.

“My methodology is not just to combat violence, but to remedy creativity,” Al Hroub said, explaining her use of creative games in the classroom.

Varkey Foundation chief executive and visiting practitioner at the GSE Vikas Pota described the Global Teacher Prize as “a way of galvanizing conversation and… showing the magic [teachers] perform in their classrooms to lots and lots of people.”

Al Hroub was chosen by an international panel of 177 educational leaders.

Following the event, Al Hroub gave advice for students seeking to create positive change in society.

“Each one of us, whatever we are, whatever we do, has a role to play in international peace,” she said. “Regardless of your role, your position, regardless of your profession, start today.”

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