A Palestinian educator on Sunday won the Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million award that recognizes a teacher who has made outstanding contributions to their community.
Hanan Al Hroub began studying to be a teacher after watching her own children struggle amid the daily violence in their neighborhood. Her husband was walking home from school with their children when he was shot and injured.
"It transformed my children's behaviors, personalities, and academics," she said.
"I felt that I was alone in getting my children through this."
She developed games for her daughters and other neighborhood children. As they played, they redeveloped social skills and built self-confidence, and their grades improved as well.
Hroub completed her degree in education, and now teaches at Samiha Khalil Secondary School in Ramallah. Many of her students have shown aggressive behavior or frustration based on the violence and uncertainty of their environment, she said.
"Based on this truth, the role of education starts, the teacher's responsibility starts also as an educator, an artist, creating an environment and a context that frees children from violence, frees their imagination and embodies it in forms of dialogue, love and beauty," she said.
"We want our children to live peaceful lives, as all children of the world."
The award was announced Sunday by Pope Francis, who referenced Hroub's philosophy of limiting violence by playing and learning.
"A child has the right to play," he said. "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."