From the Amazon Rainforest to Haiti’s rural countryside, WE celebrates three inspiring leaders bringing education to the next generation.

By Wanda O’Brien


We want to give you a little homework.

Now, don’t stop reading right away. It could even be fun. Take a moment and see if you can list all the teachers you’ve had since starting school. How many can you name? Do you remember your kindergarten teacher? What about your favourite from primary school? If you’ve already graduated (maybe you’re a teacher yourself!), who inspired you in university or college to keep seeking answers? To push toward your goals?

For me, the teacher who first made a big impact on my life was Mrs. M.

Grade 2 did not start out well for me. I was an atrocious speller and a slow reader. In Grade 1, I misspelled the word “boy” in an interschool Spelling Bee. True story. Needless to say, my confidence was low. And somehow, like many brilliant teachers out there, Mrs. Maggiacomo saw through that, to me.

Although terrified to read out loud, I’d relish any assignment where I was to write a story. Looking at old notebooks now, I have no idea how she figured out what my stories were actually about. But she’d correct my homework, red-pen “dit” to “this,” and it seemed no matter how many mistakes I made, I always got a stamp. Very occasionally, she wrote a question mark over a word, where she just couldn’t figure out which one I’d intended. She also gave me a notebook that was my dictionary. Every time I filled up a page with correctly spelled words I got a sticker. It worked.

The thread of compassion, perseverance and insight from educators carries through the stories we’re sharing here. WE works with outstanding teachers through the WE Schools program; they inspire and motivate their students to take action on issues they care about at home and globally. Similarly, through WE Villages, we work across nine countries with remarkable educators who are working to make quality education accessible to their students. To honour World Teacher’s Day, we’re celebrating the work of inspiring leaders from three of these countries.

As for your homework—think of one teacher who made a positive impact on your life. In the age of social media, see if you can find a way to thank them.


Rajasthan, India
World Teacher's Day_India

Jhumi Bai’s journey from student to teacher inspires at every step. She was the first female in her family to ever go to school. She was the only girl in her Grade 6 class. Although arranged to be married in her teenage years, she still found a way to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. In fact, she was the reason her husband—who later became a well-known and well-loved headmaster—also got into teaching. Read the tale of two teachers navigating the education landscape in rural Rajasthan, India, and redefining girls’ access to the classroom.

Amazon, Ecuador

World Teacher's Day_Ecuador

Carla Tapuy is well versed in what’s needed for effective early childhood education. She’s the kindergarten teacher in Kanambu, a community in the basin of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. But her need for resources went beyond supplies for reading, counting and arts and crafts; it extended to the classroom itself. Every day, she went into her classroom fearful that one of her young students would hurt themselves on the uneven floor or broken windows. Watch how a new building is enabling her to focus on what she does best—teach.

La Chanm, Haiti

World Teacher's Day_Haiti_Willy Pierre

Willy Pierre has always carried the importance of education in his heart. After his nephew passed away trying to cross a river to school, it was Willy who led his peers in building the first classroom the community had seen. When enrollment quadrupled, it was Willy who convinced the government to officially recognize the school. And it was Willy who brought his community to the attention of WE Charity. As access to education continues to grow in La Chanm, so too does community pride.

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