Two Brazilians are among the 50 finalists; both are members of the Connecting Knowledge Network


Débora Garofalo (São Paulo, SP) and Jayse Antônio (Itambé, PE) are among the finalists of the Global Teacher Prize, annual award funded by the Varkey Foundation that recognize the most innovative educators in the world. Over 10,000 teachers applied for a chance to win the $1 million award.

Débora is the first Brazilian woman to figure in the award’s Top 50. She is responsible for Robótica com Sucata(Junk Robotics), a project connecting technology, sustainability, and education in which students use trash taken out of the streets of São Paulo to create prototypes of toy cars and robots.

The teacher emphasizes how deeply she cares about Connecting Knowledge and how the Network helped her realize that she was not alone in the classroom. “By representing this network, I feel ensured that we are on the right track to deliver education with more quality and equity and that we can maintain high expectations of our students. Most importantly of ourselves as teachers,” she says.

Débora also highlights the visibility the prize brings to Brazilian public schools. “We have been through a lot over the past years, mainly due to the depreciation of teachers and the lack of infrastructure. Receiving an award, like this one given to my technology project, makes us really proud,” she adds.

Débora Garofalo (first on the left) at the Connecting Knowledge National Summit, in 2017 (Photo by Erik Takara)

Jayse, on his turn, is the first teacher from the Brazilian Northeast to figure among the prize’s finalists. He and his students shot several short films on different themes, from Harry Potter to the dangers of drinking and driving. It was a low-cost production, as they used spaces in their school and the community, wore borrowed clothing and produced props out of recycled material.

The teacher highlights the importance of the Network in helping educators overcome the feeling of isolation. “There are many teachers who are giving up disruptive projects because they do not have the support of the District Education Department and, sometimes, not even from their own schools,” he says. “Knowing that there are other teachers innovating their practices, transforming the classrooms and believing in their students brings me joy and makes me want to advance with my work every day.”

Jayse takes the opportunity to leave a message to fellow teachers: “Do not give up on doing innovative work. You are on the right track. I feel like a representative of all educators in the Network. I only got here because I relied on so many amazing teachers, and all of you at Connecting Knowledge are adding up to those. Thank you for being part of my life.”

Watch the video below to see Jayse speak at the Connecting Knowledge National Summit that took place in October of 2017:


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