Teacher in northern Quebec among finalists for Global Teacher Prize

Teacher in northern Quebec among finalists for Global Teacher Prize

Maggie MacDonnell, centre, shown in a handout photo, started a running club with her students in Nunavik to improve their physical health and give them an outlet for the personal and social challenges they face. MacDonnell is in the running for the prestigious US$1-million Global Teacher Prize. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO.

MONTREAL — A teacher from northern Quebec is in the running for the prestigious US$1-million Global Teacher Prize.

Maggie MacDonnell has been named a top-10 finalist for the award, administered by The Varkey Foundation, a non-profit group that focuses on education issues.

The award will be handed out for a third time at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on March 19.

MacDonnell, raised in rural Nova Scotia, was chosen from among 20,000 initial nominations and applications from 179 countries.

She has taught for six years in the remote Nunavik region, where she has championed a healthier lifestyle and worked with a municipality to build a fitness centre that is open to adults and local schools.

MacDonnell was not available for an interview Wednesday.

In a video posted on the prize’s website, MacDonnell said she’s seen the impact of physical activity first hand in a community where youths battle substance abuse, isolation and even suicide.

“I’ve always been so passionate about sport and physical activity as a tool to build resilience in young people, but I’ve literally seen it and tasted it here on a day-to-day basis in Salluit,” she said.

MacDonnell started a running club to keep kids motivated and teach them coping skills. She has also worked to improve the plight of girls in the region, establishing a co-operative work program with a local daycare.

“What has always inspired me is the youth that I work with, I really believe they are the true northern lights,” MacDonnell said. “I’m just here trying to find ways to take down barriers or challenges so they can shine, so they can dance, so they light up our lives.”

If she wins, MacDonnell has said she would like to establish a non-profit that runs environmentally focused programs for northern youth.

This year’s other finalists come from China, Jamaica, Kenya, Brazil, Germany, England, Spain, Australia and Pakistan.

Online:

Global Teacher Prize http://www.globalteacherprize.org/

The Canadian Press

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