Teaching Profession

Palestinian Teacher Who Emphasizes Play Wins $1 Million Education Prize

By Ross Brenneman — March 15, 2016 1 min read
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Hanan Al Hroub, an author and teacher in Palestine, has won the 2nd annual Global Teaching Prize, sponsored by the Varkey Foundation.

On Sunday, Pope Francis—yes, that Pope Francis—announced Al Hroub as the winner of the prize, which includes $1 million.

Al Hroub, a secondary school teacher, grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp, and said she entered teaching as a way to help youth who experience trauma. That has led her to focus on classroom management and social-emotional skills to try and reduce aggression, including through an emphasis on play:

“A child has the right to play,” Pope Francis said in a pre-recorded video message. “Part of the education is to teach children how to play because you learn how to be social through games, and you learn the joy of life.”

Two teachers from the United States, Joe Fatheree and Michael Soskil, had also been in contention for this year’s prize. Al Hroub was selected for the prize by a panel made up of prominent educators, public officials, journalists, entrepreneurs, and business people.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.