BIC Cristal Pen Award Winners 2021
Ramanan R., Sri Lanka – Ramanan works at the Jaffna Hindu College in Jaffna, a war-torn region where his ongoing work has been a pillar of strength to many throughout his career. His dedication to creative online instruction during the pandemic, including building a DIY set where he films free YouTube lessons for students globally set him apart. Ramanan also serves as the Sectional Head of the vocational stream where he oversees programs that contribute to students’ life skill development beyond academics.
Naomi A., UK - Naomi is an Assistant Head Teacher at Frodsham Manor House Primary where she has taught for over 20 years with a focus on helping children become good local and global citizens. As a Religious Education teacher, she creates lessons for all community primary schools in her region which aim to encourage global awareness including diversity, antiracism, sustainability, respect for all. Among other activities, she runs teacher workshops, supports individual schools and organizes pupil conferences where up to ten schools send children to learn about a different focus linked to religious education, like Islamophobia to encourage children to be future changemakers and peacekeepers.
Aline D., France – Aline has worked as a music teacher for more than 20 years. She is known for going above and beyond in her instruction of handicapped students, especially those who are hearing impaired with innovative teaching methods combining music, visual arts and performance. Her workshops use creative hands-on learning to teach eco citizenship through the creation of interactive art installations and literature through a musical version of “The Little Prince.” Thanks to these projects and Aline’s dedication to personal attention, her students discover a passion for learning through artistic expression.
Shweta D., India – Shweta is dedicated to instilling a sense of resilience into her students which she demonstrated by successfully encouraging hands-on learning throughout the pandemic and reinventing herself as a teacher. Other than her innovative teaching methods, Shweta provides her students (particularly those from economically weaker backgrounds) with DIRT (Development, Improvement and Reflection Time) so she is there whenever they need her. She was also instrumental in a virtual exchange program with a Kenyan school where she encouraged the importance of learning from other cultures and global citizenship as well as facilitated a student-led conference where students shared their journeys through e-portfolios over the pandemic.
Herńan N., Argentina – Herńan is one of the founders and current president of the library Biblioteca Popular Palabras del Alma. The library began operating on a mobile basis, only on weekends and now offers art, a community garden, and workshops for reading writing, computer, language, theater and many topics for people of all ages, including high school students and children without access to kindergarten. Herńan also coordinates a project for indigenous people where a dozen new libraries in their communities have since been built. He is also the creator of a community theater group and radio station that allows poor people, women, children and adolescents, people with disabilities or who are part of indigenous peoples to express themselves.
Carmem L., Brazil – Carmem first became involved with education through volunteer work that grew into founding a day care center on the premises of a religious chapel, initially serving 15 children. Since then, Carmem raised funds to purchase land next to the chapel where she opened the Associação Espaço Educativo São Charbel, which assists 160 underprivileged children by offering tutoring, sports, music and various activities, in addition to providing meals. Her 34 years of dedication to this cause has helped underprivileged youth forge a new path which includes successful careers and seeing her former students return to help those after them. When regular classes were suspended during the pandemic, she and her organization remained active in the community by offering individual tutoring and food basket donations.
MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA
Abdallah W., Morocco – Abdallah was inspired by his sister to become a teacher and help ensure that girls and boys have equal access to quality education. He has taught in some of the most disadvantaged regions in Morocco where he is determined to make learning fun regardless of whether the school has access to electricity or internet. He’s even known to charge his laptop weekly at the village market to provide computer access for his students. He encourages his students’ involvement in music, theater and technology and regularly holds meetings with female students’ fathers to stress the importance of ongoing education. He sets up summer camps, teacher trainings and coordinates student transportation programs outside of school.
Opeifa O., Nigeria – Opeifa is a teacher with over a decade of experience and passion for English literacy. He teaches difficult concepts in phonology and grammar using popular rap songs, card games and dance. He also founded the first ever free weekend tutorial classes in his region to prepare students for external exams and started a reading club. He has been recognized with multiple awards and has used the prize money to improve school facilities including a library, modern toilets and technology to improve learning conditions for hundreds of students. Opeifa is further improving education by co-founding an online teacher community www.techerx.org.
Bernadette M., United States – Bernadette has dedicated over 25 years to early childhood education and started her career in the same Waterbury, Connecticut school system that she attended as a child. She remained active in the school community while raising her own children and was eventually asked to start the school’s preschool program. She built a curriculum that gave each preschooler the skills to read and write above their levels. Bernadette’s hands-on approach in the classroom often involves giving back to the wider community including thank you cards to local police, firemen and hospital workers. She is known to spend her own time and funds to plan engaging activities and purchase snacks and essentials for her students in need.
Sharda V., Canada – Sharda’s kindergarten and special education students describe her teaching style as interactive, supportive and transparent. She is focused on helping her students develop a voice in the classroom and fostering their emotional wellbeing through a personalized approach that uses everyday life to inspire learning. She also runs an eco-club at her school to help teach students about the importance of preserving our planet for the future.