Palestinian elementary teacher Hanan Al Hroub was awarded the Global Teacher Prize of one million dollars for her outstanding contribution as a teacher.

Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and is now a teacher of refugees herself, specializing in supporting children who have been traumatized by violence.

She was motivated to become a teacher after her children witnessed a relative being shot, and their father seriously injured on a walk home from school. “It transformed my children’s behaviors, personalities and academics,” she stated in a video. “I felt that I was alone in getting my children through this. No teachers had helped us get my children back on track. ”

With a lack of help from the education system, Hroub invented games for her family and neighbors’ children to participate in. By teaching the children games that help reject violence, she gradually helped the children’s behavior and grades improve.

“Some children may not directly experience things like arrests, or assault, checkpoints and all the violence in our country, however they see it on the screens and in social media and that still affects them,” Hroub stated.

“I tell all the teachers, whether they are Palestinian or around the world: ‘Our job is humane, its goals are noble. We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education.”

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize was announced at an awards ceremony in Dubai by Pope Francis via video conference. “I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan Al Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance that she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,” the Pope stated. He reiterated that a major aspect of education is teaching children how to play in order to learn how to be social as well as to “learn the joy of life.”

Hroub said that she accepted this award “as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.” Hroub urges people to “believe in your ideas, work on them, convince people of your ideas, challenge the whole world, convince people of your ideas so you can spread them and you will find yourself here.”

After receiving the award Hroub stated that she is “proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage.” Hroub plans to spend the prize money supporting her students.

The Global Teacher Prize was created by the Varkey Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dubai-based education entrepreneur, Sunny Varkey. The global panel who chooses the winner consists of educators, entrepreneurs, and scientist. This award aims to “improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world.”