This year, the national award Global Teacher Prize Ukraine 2022 honored the heroes of the educational front – teachers whose stories impersonates Ukrainian wartime teaching. Ukrainians saw these stories on October 2, on Teacher’s Day, on the air of the National Telethon.
Since 2017, the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine has been identifying the best teachers in the country. This year, instead of announcing the finalists and winners, the organizer of the award, Osvitoria NGO, recognizes unbreakable and brave educators who continue their teaching in difficult conditions, remain changemakers and innovators despite the war; who protect and save Ukrainian children from shelling and rocket attacks. As Zoya Lytvyn, head of “Osvitoria” and founder of the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine, noted, this year every teacher is already a winner.
“We are holding the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine for the sixth time to thank teachers and make their daily achievements visible. The constant slogan of the award is the phrase #TeachersAreImportant. The war gave a new perspective to this saying. Ukrainian schools became the first targets for Russian missiles, the enemy purposefully burns Ukrainian books and persecutes Ukrainian teachers, because they are really extremely important for the future of our nation. Thanks to Ukrainian teachers, the victory of humanity and freedom, the victory of Ukraine is inevitable,” Zoya Lytvyn, head of Osvitoria NGO, noted in her speech.
Traditionally, the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine ceremony was attended by the representatives of the authorities – First Lady Olena Zelenska and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
The First Lady of Ukraine thanked all the country’s teachers and personally awarded the teacher Nataliya Pesotska, who during the shelling of Chernihiv saved 30 children in the basements of the Chernihiv Social and Psychological Rehabilitation Center for 17 days in a row. Later, the teacher managed to transport her students to a safe place in Ivano-Frankivsk region. As Olena Zelenska noted, it is a great honor for her to personally present the award to Mrs. Natalia, because her story is often mentioned by the First Lady at international meetings and during interviews.
“As a mother of a pupil, I can say how important it is to have a normal school lesson in the middle of war, and to hear the teacher’s calm voice among the sirens and to know that life goes on. Human is at the center of life, human is at the center of the restoration of our Ukraine. And recovery begins precisely with education and upbringing. As long as our children are studying, our country lives,” said Olena Zelenska to Ukrainian educators.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, also joined this year’s national award and thanked the teachers for their contribution to education:
“Despite the fact that the enemy attacked our land, 3,000 schools were destroyed or damaged, 1,200 are under occupation, the educational process continues, because teachers understand the importance of their educational mission. 900 teachers went to the front. This is a great example of serving to Ukrainian people. We are in a big debt to you, teachers. Of course, we do everything to ensure that the educational process continues and is safe. We are doing everything to make Ukrainian education an integral part of the European educational space. Today, our teachers are educating the future generation of Ukrainians who will restore the state. And teachers thus become a big part of our post-war recovery,” Denys Shmyhal said tp the educational community.
During the ceremony, the Prime Minister of Ukraine recognized the volunteer teachers and personally awarded two such teachers – the teacher of Ukrainian language and literature Yurii Hayduchenko and the teacher of computer science Lyudmila Bulygina. Together, they created the “Teacher Goes to the Armed Forces” project, which is designed to help colleagues who left the educational front for the military. Yuriy and Lyudmila initiated the community, which now unites all educators to help their fellow teachers at the front.
“When four Ukrainians meet, three of them are volunteers. When four Ukrainian teachers meet, all of them are volunteers. I do not know a single colleague who does not help our heroes who are on the front lines.
You and I, educators, are a strong rear. And only together, with our strong community, will we win,” Lyudmila Bulygina said.
As the Prime Minister noted in his speech, 900 teachers joined the ranks of the Armed Forces and are now fighting at the front. This year, the organizers of the award have collected many stories about teachers who protect their students at the cost of their own lives and fight for the victory of Ukraine. TV presenter, co-founder of Junior NGO Oleksandr Pedan addressed these teachers with words of thanks.
Oleksandr Sukhoruchko from Kropyvnytskyi is one of such teacher-defenders. Before the full-scale invasion, he worked as a physical education teacher. From February 24, Oleksandr volunteered, and later went to the front. In August, the teacher received a mine-explosive injury, but despite this, he will continue to defend Ukraine.
Despite difficult conditions, teachers find the strength every day to teach, help and psychologically support their students. This year, the curator of the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine, TV presenter “1+1” Nataliya Moseychuk chose with her heart and honored the teacher-psychologist Olena Anoprienko, who has been saving children’s souls in the “Okhmatdyt” hospital since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Mrs. Olena not only helped children, but also her fellow educators, providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills for psychological self-support.
“Since February 24, Ms. Olena lived in Okhmatdyt, was close to young patients, taught them, and provided emergency psychological help right there. At that time, wounded children who were evacuated simply under the bombs were constantly sent to the hospital. These are children who have lost their closest relatives – parents, sisters, brothers. And Mrs. Olena warmed their hearts. That is why my special award goes to teachers at hospitals. And in their person – Olena Anoprienko. Thank you for the healing of children’s souls and the human feat,” Nataliya Moseichuk said.
Some traditions of the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine remain unchanged. The award always honors innovative teachers who find non-standard ways of teaching. One of such educators is Iryna Sokol from the city of Zaporizhzhia. Only a week of the war passed, when the computer science teacher directed all her forces to the educational front. Iryna wanted to bring the educational process to completion even in war conditions. Together with 75 teachers since the beginning of the war, she began to teach on a volunteer basis in a distance school for thousands of children from Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and other regions and from abroad. In addition to traditional lessons, she conducted webinars on digital literacy for children and adults. This year, all innovative teachers represented by Iryna Sokol were recognized by the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for IT Development and the Digital Transformation Committee of Ukraine Oleksandr Bornyakov.
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine has collected many stories about the indomitability, courage, support and humanity of teachers. Some of these stories were about transformative teachers who, despite the war, find new ways to teach and stick to their craft. One of these teachers is Valeriya Gukova from Kharkiv. From the beginning of the full-scale war, Valeria spent 42 days in a bomb shelter, from where she taught lessons to the sound of explosions and shelling. As a result of the war, teachers have to work in inhumane conditions, but they still find the strength and ways to do it so children will continue to get an education.
The laureate of the “National Legend of Ukraine” prize, the finalist of the Global Teacher Prize Ukraine 2021, Hanna But expressed her gratitude to the change-making teachers.
This year’s ceremony was hosted by Yurii Gorbunov. During the ceremony, Ukrainian singer Svitlana Tarabarova also performed the songs “The Way Home” and “Pride of the Country” to thank all the teachers.