Bridges of Peace and Hope Teacher Wins Major Microsoft Award and Represents USA in World Forum

Picture of Bridges of Peace and Hope Teacher Wins Major Microsoft Award and Represents USA in World Forum

Congratulations to Cheryl Arnett (Pictured Left, on the right) from Sunset Elementary School in Craig, Colorado and Rawya Shatila from Maskassed Khalil Shehab School in Beirut, Lebanon who won first place for their international collaboration. Cheryl traveled to Capetown South Africa tin October 2010 to represent the United States at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in South Africa, joining nearly 500 other teachers from 60 countries who won similar events in their regions.

Ms. Arnett and Ms. Shatila’s project titled, “Digital Stories: A Celebration of Learning and Culture”, aligned with this year’s theme of “Inspire More,” by connecting Ms. Arnett’s class of first and second graders in Craig, Colorado to Ms. Shatila’s second graders in Beirut. The two teachers, who had never met before, used technologies like wikis, blogs and online mapping tools to share stories and activities to help students increase global awareness of similarities and differences between children from different countries.

“Technology adds a dynamic dimension to teaching, helping teachers engage their students in a new way,” said Cheryl Arnett. “We are thrilled to be recognized and excited to travel to South Africa to meet and learn from other innovative teachers from across the globe.”

"We were able to make our classes virtual neighbors instead of strangers on the other side of the world,” said Rawya Shatila. “Using technology, we are developing our students into global citizens – it broadens their perspective.”

This year, 17 teams of teachers from 10 states gathered in Washington, D.C. to not only compete, but to collaborate with their peers to understand best practices in 21st century teaching and learning. The winners were determined by a judging panel consisting of educators, past winners, and Microsoft executives. Thomas Gaffey from the School of the Future in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania won second place, and Pat Yongpradit from Springbrook High School in Silver Springs, Maryland took third place. These teachers will also represent the U.S. in South Africa. Videos of all the teachers’ entries can be viewed here:

“The Innovative Education Forum is an inspirational event to celebrate our nation’s teachers,” said Siegfried Behrens, general manager of U.S. Education at Microsoft. “These amazing teachers are transforming education by using technology as a means to engage their students and to enhance the effectiveness of their teaching. They are using technology in innovative ways to connect classroom learning to the real world and equipping our children with the skills necessary to compete in a globally competitive workforce.”