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Maggie MacDonnell won the $1-million Global Teacher Prize, Sunday

Maggie MacDonnell, a native of tiny Afton, N.S, won the $1-million Global Teacher Prize, Sunday, and was awarded the prize during a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beating out about 20,000 applicants from around the world.

The prize was established three years ago to recognize one exceptional teacher a year who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, employs innovative classroom practices and encourages others to join the teaching profession. “I’m also a coach, I’m also a mentor, I’m a bit of a motivator. For some children, I’m also somewhat of a parental figure, and older sibling, and aunt and extra mother,” Maggie MacDonnell declared. “You have done extraordinary things in exceptional circumstances and have showed enormous heart, will and imagination,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a former teacher himself. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Governor General David Johnston, and astronaut Chris Hadfield also congratulated the winning teacher. MacDonnell had taught in Botswana, Tanzania and Congo, and finally in Salluit, Quebec, where drug use and alcoholism rates are high.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was Sunday on hand to present the prize to MacDonnell. Her name was announced by French astronaut Thomas Pasquet in a video message from the International Space Station.

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