Ukraine awarded five teachers with the 2023 Global Teachers Prize on Oct. 7, the organization Osvitoriia (Education) announced.
The prize recognizes five outstanding educators in five separate categories, and has been granted to teachers in Ukraine since 2017. The winners receive a grant of one million hryvnias to devote to educational initiatives.
The "Preschool" award went to Victoria Dushyna, a preschool educator in Kharkiv. Dushina established a club for internally displaced childred after the outbreak of full-scale war.
Larysa Fesenko, a lyceum director from a village in the Kupiansk district, won the prize in the "Unbreakable" category. Fesenko survived 45 days of captivity by occupying Russian forces.
"I could not even imagine that I would be captured in my nightmares," Fesenko said.
"My whole life ran before my eyes, I was told that I would not return and that everything I was there, what position I held... I was told to forget. 'You just don't exist anymore.' While I was there, I told my cellmates about the school and how well I worked there."
Speech therapist Kateryna Yakushevska of Mykolaiv was awarded the "Choice with Heart" prize. She taught her last regular lesson on Feb. 23, 2022, the night before a Russian missile destroyed her school during the launch of the full-scale invasion.
The "Innovator" category went to Maksym Hvozdetskyi, a physics teacher from Zaporizhzhia, who was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and aftermath of the Russian invasion to create interactive videos to engage his students.
Petro Sitek, age 23, received this year's "Young Teacher" prize. Sitek teaches civic education in Lviv.
"We need to change our approach to education. We need to focus on the kind of personalities we help to shape, not on the knowledge they acquire," Sitek said.