You’ve probably never forgotten your favorite teacher — and there’s a good reason why. According to the UN, a highly skilled teacher is “the single most influential variable” in the overall quality of a student’s education. 


The ripple effect of a great educator is limitless. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring teacher stories from three regions around the world — starting with Asia. 


From a teacher in India championing parent-student collaboration to a Hong Kong-based vice principal celebrating students’ uniqueness, educators who care are making differences that count. 


Let’s hear from six teachers who are changing lives and opening minds.


Building a culture of reading in Guangdong, China

Principal Weixing Yuan wants to change the way students learn. So he decided to change where they learn.


He came up with a surprising solution. He designed a new school with books in the corridors and a garden on the roof. The idea was simple: improve the learning environment, and the rest will follow.


“The students are surrounded by books,” he said. “It is hard not to love books and reading on this campus.” And the students agree. Now, some stay late just to have a chance to read more.


In transforming the learning environment, Principal Yuan has transformed the energy and curiosity of teachers and students alike. Student grades have improved, too, which means everyone has a chance to shine.


“As far as the eye can see, there are books. The library has become a living, breathing part of the school—a school where students love to read.” Weixing Yuan


Bringing curiosity and creativity into math teaching in Jiangsu, China

Under the mentorship of Professor Yongxin Zhu, 2022 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate, Huifen Zhuang has gone from being a young math teacher to an award-winning ‘super-principal’.


Huifen is a lifelong learner, keeping up to date with the latest research about effective teaching methods and the science of learning. She looks critically at how to improve teaching methods, by engaging and discussing with peers. All of this feeds into her own professional progress and development.


Huifen shares her own love of math with her schools, teachers, and students, dispelling conventional stereotypes about teaching and learning math and building ‘curious and creative schools’.


“I work hard to find a way of teaching math that helps children. I constantly research new teaching methods, new ideas, new methods... my aim is to break through children’s fears and remove all obstacles to learning.” Huifen Zhuang


Teaching together in Chattisgarh, India

Everyone in Nawagaon village knows Dageshwar Ravte, or ‘Ravte sir’ by name. As a school teacher, he quickly saw the benefits of Pratham’s program. Soon, it wasn’t just the village children learning science, math, and reading — it was their parents and neighbors, too.


But the journey didn’t stop there. Ravte sir believes it’s important to involve parents in their children’s education, building a learning environment at home that works with the school. He invites parents to drop by classes, or visits them to talk about the children’s learning.


Now, the whole village teaches together. And they all love Ravte sir.


“Initially it was difficult; people believed only teachers were responsible for their children’s education. But I feel involvement of parents and the whole community is very important for the education of the children.”  – Dageshwar Ravte


Strengthening leadership through mother and child learning in Odisha, India

“I consider myself very lucky,” says Swarnaprava Pradhan, coordinator for Pratham’s early years program in India. After working with Pratham for nearly two decades, she now coordinates early learning programs across 11 states, as well as developing content and training for the program.


But it was her experience with Pratham Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives, working with children aged 0–3, that gave Swarnaprava her most valuable insights. That was when she realized the importance of involving mothers from the very start. Seeing the difference this made, both for the children and for herself, was a real lesson in leadership.


Building a strong learning foundation for children in their early years helps them immensely to start their formal education. With the help of the ECD program, I also got an opportunity to strengthen the foundation for my future.” Swarnaprava Pradhan


Educating around interests in Hong Kong

At LST Yu Kan Hing Secondary School in Hong Kong, Vice-principal Wong Hok Shing Brian keeps learning student-centered.


That means he tailors learning experiences around what learners enjoy. Because every learner is different. So whether they’re interested in esports, animal protection, or farming, there’s an option to suit. It helps students take charge of their learning, builds empathy, and positive values, and broadens their horizons in the process.


Students feel motivated — they’re developing real skills for the future. And so do teachers — they’re empowered to do their best for learners based on what they actually enjoy.


“Each student has their own unique strengths. Our mission is to help them fulfill their dreams by accompanying them throughout their learning journey. We hope to make an impact on their lives through our own.” – Wong Hok Shing Brian


Taking a positive approach in Hong Kong

When Stephanie To and her team started to redesign the curriculum and introduce principles of Positive Education, it was the beginning of a journey for HKSKH Bishop Hall Secondary School.


Positive Education has its roots in positive psychology and focuses on building well-being so that everyone in the school community can flourish.


Through Positive Education, Stephanie helps students at Bishop Hall Secondary School find their own core strengths. And it’s an approach that transforms lives. She and her team are already seeing learners regain interest and confidence.


While the journey towards Positive Education began as a change in curriculum, it also changed the culture—meaning the whole school thrives.


“Positive education is a journey for us. We’re on the road, bringing like-minded people together to work towards a common vision.” – Stephanie To


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Media

Principal Weixing Yuan

Photo credit: New Education Initiative

Huifen Zhuang and students

Photo credit: New Education Initiative

Dageshwar Ravte

Photo credit: Pratham Education Foundation

Swarnaprava Pradham and children

Photo credit: Pratham Education Foundation

Vice-principal Wong Hok Shing Brian (left) and students

Photo credit: LST Yu Kan Hing Secondary School

Students from Bishop Hall Secondary School

Photo credit: Bishop Hall Secondary School

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