Maggie MacDonnell

Beste leraar ter wereld

After completing her Masters degree Maggie has sought out opportunities to teach indigenous communities in Canada. For the last six years has been a teacher in a fly-in Inuit village called Salluit, nestled in the Canadian Arctic. This is home to the second northernmost Inuit community in Quebec, with a population of just over 1,300 – it cannot be reached by road, only by air. In winter temperatures are minus 25C. 

The village copes with a lot of difficulties, like teenage pregnancies and high levels of sexual abuse. Maggie therefore created a life skills programme specifically for girls. Also, in areas of high deprivation, isolation and limited resources, teenagers often turn to drinking and smoking, even drugs and self-harm, as forms of escape and release. She therefore quickly established a fitness centre which has become a hub for youth and adults in the local community who are embracing a healthier lifestyle.

Due to the harsh conditions, there are very high rates of teacher turnover which is a significant barrier to education in the Arctic. Many teachers leave their post midway through the year, and many apply for stress leave. Her current school has no Principal as he left after six weeks on stress leave.

Maggie’s whole approach has been about turning students from “problems” to “solutions” through initiatives such as “acts of kindness” which has dramatically improved school attendance. Specific examples include: running a community kitchen, attending suicide prevention training and hiking through national parks to understand environmental stewardship.

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