Hanan al-Hroub released Varkey Foundation

A former refugee who decided to teach children about self-respect and non-violence has been named Global Teacher of the Year.

Hanan al-Hroub accepted the award — akin to a “Nobel Peace Prize for educators” — on behalf of “all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.” She plans to use the one million dollar prize money to create scholarships for outstanding students to become teachers.


Al-Hroub grew up in a refugee camp and as an adult, saw her own children changed by the violence on the West Bank.

Playing games with her kids helped them to readjust and inspired her to invite all the neighborhood kids–and then go to college and get a degree in Elementary Education.

She opened her own primary school and uses playful academic lessons to teach kids to practice non-violence while building strong, trusting and respectful relationships. Her unique approach has led to a decline in violence among students and is being copied in the region.

WATCH:  This Teacher Gives Compliments to Every Student, Each Morning

More than 8,000 teachers from around the world were nominated for Global Teacher of the Year.

Al-Hroub was named the winner in a message by Pope Francis and after the nominees received video tributes from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Prince William, actors Salma Hayek and Matthew McConaughey, and physicist Stephen Hawking.

The star-studded ceremony and million dollar prize was created by the Varkey Foundation to elevate the status of teachers in the world.

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“Each day,”  Al-Hroub  said in her acceptance speech, “the role of the teacher is reinforced and its importance confirmed as the world questions what future we want for our children.”

Last year’s prize went to Nancie Atwell, a teacher in Maine for creating a school that gives students choices instead of tests.

(WATCH the video below from the Varkey Foundation and READ more at BBC News) — Photo: Varkey Foundation

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