Varkey Foundation : Three Canadian teachers nominated for Global Teacher Prize
About the Varkey Foundation
The Varkey Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. Our mission is that every child should have a good teacher. We do this through:
1. BUILDING TEACHER CAPACITY
“No education system can be better than its teachers.” We couldn’t agree more with Lord Adonis who introduced our 2013 Global Teacher Status Index report. This is why we use our teaching experience to help train teachers all over the world. Some of our successful projects have reached over 14,000 teachers in sub-Saharan Africa and 5,000 marginalised pupils in Ghana.
2. ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS TO PROMOTE EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
As experienced educators, we believe it is our responsibility to actively engage with current global education policy. From recognising outstanding educators, to fighting for better access to education for girls and women, to encouraging private sector support for education initiatives, we have established advocacy campaigns like the Global Teacher Prize and Business Backs Education that have been heard by change-makers around the world.
3. PROVIDING GRANTS
The Varkey Foundation Challenge Fund provides grants to partner organisations that offer innovative solutions in support of our mission. The Challenge Fund seeks to support a small number of early-stage initiatives in their endeavours to help build the capacity of teachers and to strengthen the status of the teaching profession.
ATTN: Global Teacher Prize
St. Albans House, 2nd Floor
London, SW1Y 4QX UK
+44 (0) 20 7593 4040
Three Canadian teachers nominated for Global Teacher Prize
Armand Doucet, Yvan Girouard and Maggie MacDonnell are among 50 teachers around the world to be nominated for their innovative approaches to education
From transforming classrooms into scenes from the Harry Potter novels to coaching kids in a northern community to run half-marathons, three Canadians have gone above and beyond the curriculum to help students learn — and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Armand Doucet, Yvan Girouard and Maggie MacDonnell are among 50 teachers around the world to be nominated for the Global Teacher Prize. The prize, established by the education charity Varkey Foundation, highlights the importance of teachers while awarding the top educator with $1 million (U.S.).
The nominees were selected from more than 20,000 applications from 179 countries. They were chosen for demonstrating innovative teaching practices in the classroom, contributing to the broader community and providing students with valuable life and work skills.
A short list of 10 nominees will attend the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March, where the winner will be announced.
In just five years of teaching, Armand Doucet has tackled challenges in his two schools in Riverview, N.B., with creative programs that make learning fun and empowering for his students.
“I’ve always sort of thought outside the box and wanted to bring innovation to the classroom and try to reach everybody,” he said.
When literacy scores were a concern at Riverview Middle School, Doucet said he had the idea to create “Harry Potter Week,” transforming the school into the fictional Hogwarts. Teachers dressed up as characters from the series and curriculum-based lessons were re-imagined with a magical spin.
“We were looking at owl pellets in science, dissecting owl pellets. We were looking at how you could make a broom fly,” he said.
Bell Aliant Award for Excellence in Teaching Winner Armand Doucet’s acceptance speech at the NBTA Annual Dinner, May 29, 2015.
Footage of the week went viral, garnering nearly two million views online and raising over $100,000 for the school. Doucet said the event got students excited and made them proud of their school and community for all the attention they received.
Now teaching a high school, he’s handed his think-outside-the-box philosophy over to his students. In his modern history and world issues classes, he said he teaches students about global events and problems, and then encourages them develop practical solutions.
“I’m a firm believer that curriculum outcomes is one half of my job. The other half is to create or help them develop the skill set they need for when they get out to the real world,” he said.
When Quebec changed its curriculum in 2009, Grade 10 science teacher Yvan Girouard said he was thrilled at the prospect of being able to cover more topics.
“I can have aquariums in my classroom, I can put up posters of every science (subject) because with the new curriculum I teach everything in a year,” he said.
He decided to bring in his personal collection of scientific artifacts that include 100 taxidermy figures, turning his classroom at École Secondaire les Etchemins in Lévis into a museum.
Since 2011, his students help put together an exhibit based on the collection, which features a nine-foot-long shark. The exhibit is opened up to students from other schools to see.
His passion for science has influenced his students. He said his door is open all time and students who aren’t even in his class come in during lunch to ask questions, work on projects and get help with their studies.
Despite all his involvement at the school, Girouard said he didn’t see the nomination coming.
“I’m just a science teacher in a high school in Quebec,” he said. “Really, I am surprised.”
Maggie MacDonnell said she has always been interested in the way sport and recreation can improve many aspects of a person’s life. When she was asked to develop a life skills program to improve school enrolment for the Kativik School Board in the arctic region of Quebec six years ago, she did much more by establishing fitness programs as well.
In a community where the risk of developing diabetes is high and youth suicide is a concern, MacDonnell said she wanted to teach kids healthy coping strategies.
She worked with the municipality to have build a fitness centre that is open to adults and the local schools, and she started a running club to keep kids motivated.
Her runners decided they wanted to train and compete in half-marathons. She’s taken a group of teens to compete in the Blue Nose race in Nova Scotia three times and to races in Hawaii twice.
The runners are now the faces of the Healthy Choices tour. They visit schools across the region to offer peer-to-peer presentations about issues around mental health, addiction, dropping out of school, and how using physical activity can help to overcome some of these challenges. The runners are gaining leadership and public speaking skills in the process.
“They’re starting to see themselves as role models, which is a really magical moment for them,” she said.
If he wins, Doucet said he would reinvest the money into his school and community programs. Girouard said he would split the winnings evenly with the other nine shortlisted teachers, while MacDonnell said she would establish a non-profit that runs environmentally focused programs for northern youth.