Helmond teacher a finalist for 'world's best teacher'

Teacher Daisy Mertens of primary school De Vuurvogel in Helmond is one of ten finalists for the Global Teacher Prize, the award for the best teacher in the world, organizer the . The finalists were chosen from over 10 thousand nominations from 179 countries. 

In 2016 Mertens was named the best primary school teacher in the Netherlands. According to the Varkey Foundation, she consciously chose to work at a school in one of Helmond's poorer areas. The school has 440 pupils from up to 30 nationalities. "The pupils have huge learning differences - children with severe learning problems are mixed in with gifted children - and in addition, her pupils face prejudice from students in wealthier areas, have poorer language skills than the average, and struggle to realize their life chances", the Foundation said. 

The Foundation praises Mertens for focusing on "equal participation of children in planning their own learning". "This enables them to ignite their inner motivation and reflectively formulate short- and long term goals, making progress by self regulation of their own personal growth."

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will receive an amount of 1 million dollars, around 880 thousand euros. If Mertens wins, she wants to use the money to boost her foundation High5, which encourages children to come up with ideas on how their school can improve the quality of its education. 

"For Daisy teaching is about giving her children the feeling that they are competent, interact with others and know how to be an autonomous person", the Foundation said. "She made it her mission to contribute to these basic needs each day and ignite intrinsic motivation. As a result children are becoming better learners, real global citizens and feeling happy."

"I love teaching for the opportunity to speak to children, help them with resources, to offer direction and clarity", Mertens said to the Foundation. "To help them develop the vision they need so that they can be more, go further and fly higher."

On Twitter the Dutch teacher said that she is "speechless", "overwhelmed" and "blessed" by her inclusion in the finalists for the Global Teacher Prize. "I want to dedicate this one to everyone who made this possible! Family, friends, colleagues, my students. The ones who believe in me, give me support, chances and opportunities."

The prize will be awarded on March 24th. All finalists will be flown to Dubai for the ceremony. The other finalists come from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, the United States, Kenya, India, Georgia and Australia. 

Daisy Mertens teaching
Daisy Mertens teaching. (Photo: The Varkey Foundation)

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