Every day, teachers enter their classrooms and work magic.
They open up the minds of children to new concepts and ideas, allowing them to experience and appreciate the world around them in new ways. Their lessons go far beyond homework and test scores, as they help students navigate their lives, inspiring them to find their passions and make their own way.
Behind every great mind and forward thinker is a teacher who showed them a path and encouraged them every step of the way.
In 2015, the Varkey Foundation established the Global Teacher Prize in order to recognize some of the most influential educators across the globe. The winner gets $1 million. Last year's winner, American Nancy Atwell, donated all of her winnings to the school she founded to increase her already incredible impact.
Here are the 10 finalists for the 2016 Global Teacher Prize (click link for bios):
-Hanan Al Hroub, Palestine
-Aqeela Asifi, Pakistan
-Robin Chaurasiya, India
The Varkey Foundation
The group of finalists is as diverse as the circumstances of the students they teach.
While Richard Johnson's students explore robotics and Michael Soskil's students chat live with the International Space Station, the girls at the refugee camp in Pakistan where Aqeela Asifi began teaching were happy to get their first lessons ever by writing words in dirt on the ground and studying from books handwritten by Asifi.
Maarit Rossi improved the textbook her students used, one that is now used across Finland and has contributed to some of the highest math scores in the world, while Joe Fatheree integrated hip hop into his lesson plans to relate literature to his students.
Robin Chaurasiya educates teen girls affected by sex trafficking, and Colin Hegarty's students get additional instruction from the online videos he created to supplement lessons. Kazuya Takahashi's students are designing more efficient systems for space exploration, and innovative sustainable solutions for impoverished areas are coming out of Ayub Mohamud's class. Hanan Al Hroub's highest priority is to ensure extremist violence in the region doesn't affect her class and they learn to choose peace.
Despite the enormous differences between them, there is one common thread: they push boundaries.
These teachers are able to push their students to the next level. No matter how meager or affluent their roots, they are able to use every available resource to help bring them to the next level. They are creative in how they inspire their students not just to learn, but to love learning.
The winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize will be announced on March 13 at a special celebration in Dubai.
Image credit: Varkey Foundation