Cana­dian at Arc­tic school wins $1m teach­ing prize

The Guardian - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Cana­dian woman who teaches at a school in an Arc­tic vil­lage that can only be reached by air was awarded the $1m Global Teacher prize in Dubai yes­ter­day.

Mag­gie MacDon­nell, who was praised for “chang­ing the lives of her stu­dents and trans­form­ing her com­mu­nity”, was cho­sen from 10 fi­nal­ists af­ter 20,000 nom­i­na­tions and ap­pli­ca­tions from 179 coun­tries.

She has taught for the past six years in the Inuit vil­lage of Sal­luit, in the Cana­dian Arc­tic, which has a high rate of sui­cide, ac­cord­ing to de­tails pro­vided by the award or­gan­is­ers.

MacDon­nell said she had faced 10 sui­cides. “As a teacher, when I come to school the morn­ing af­ter there is an empty desk in that class­room. There is still­ness and si­lence,” she said, fight­ing back tears. “Thank you for bring­ing global at­ten­tion to them.”

MacDon­nell has cre­ated a life skills pro­gramme specif­i­cally for girls, in a re­gion where teenage preg­nan­cies are com- mon, with high lev­els of sex­ual abuse. Many teach­ers leave their posts mid­way through the aca­demic year due to stress and the harsh con­di­tions en­dured by the in­dige­nous com­mu­nity. MacDon­nell has also been a tem­po­rary fos­ter par­ent.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime min­is­ter, con­grat­u­lated MacDon­nell via a video clip, say­ing: “We are all proud of you.”

The Global Teacher prize was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foun­da­tion. It is paid in in­stal­ments and re­quires the win­ner to re­main a teacher for at least five years. Last year, Pales­tinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub won for her in­no­va­tive ap­proach of us­ing play to counter vi­o­lent be­hav­iour among her stu­dents.

Mag­gie MacDon­nell, who teaches in a re­mote vil­lage in the Cana­dian Arc­tic, was praised for set­ting up a pro­gramme to give life skills to Inuit girls

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