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Cultural Exchange Ambassador Teacher celebrates winning Participate Learning’s Teacher of the Year award
Global Education

Meet Participate Learning’s Teachers of the Year: Jamie Haripershad

The 2024 Participate Learning Teacher of the Year awards recognize three teachers in the Participate Learning Network who have shown an exceptional commitment to their students and school community, and have exemplified Participate Learning’s mission of uniting our world through global learning.

This year, each awardee demonstrated commitment to teaching global perspectives in their classroom and their dedication to the Participate Learning mission by sharing examples of:

  • Connections: Connections with students, colleagues at school, their community, fellow members of the Participate Learning Network, and beyond.
  • Cultural Experiences: Cultural experiences they provide for students, their school, and community by sharing their own culture, recognizing all of the cultures represented in their classroom, and teaching about cultures from around the world. 
  • Leadership: Leadership roles they serve in on their grade level or team, within their school, in the Participate Learning Network, and in the community.
  • Learning: Professional development opportunities that advance their own learning, as well as the creative and innovative global and/or language learning experiences that they provide for their students.

These global educators have poured time, energy, and so much thoughtfulness into sharing how they embrace global and teach and language learning in their classrooms, schools, and beyond. It is our honor to introduce our third Teacher of the Year winner, Jamie Haripershad!

A dynamic teacher leader

Mrs. Haripershad, or “Mrs. H.,” as she is known to her students, is a third-term Ambassador Teacher originally from South Africa. She is a first-grade teacher at Elon Elementary in the Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina.

Mrs. H.’s hard work and dedication to her students and her skill in sharing her culture are evident in all she does! Read more about the dynamic learning experiences she has provided this year and how she serves her school community through leadership and continuous learning.

Building deep connections

Mrs. H. cares deeply about her students, supporting not only their academic learning but also their pursuits outside of school. She attends after-school activities and games to cheer on her students so she can continually build relationships.

She also makes connections with fellow teachers and parents by participating in community events like a spring fling, organizing a community garden project, and volunteering at a Feed the Hungry event. One of her favorite things to do is cook, so she has prepared South African cuisine to share with students and staff so they could experience an aspect of her culture.

As part of Participate Learning’s Ambassador Teacher program, Mrs. H. has built friendships with other teachers in the program, sharing her culture and traveling to new places with them. She also started learning Spanish so she could communicate in another language with fellow teachers.

Mrs. H. has facilitated virtual exchanges for her students with a class in South Africa so they can learn about similarities and differences between U.S. and South African culture. She builds meaningful connections in all areas of her life, enriching her students and those around her.

Immersive, meaningful cultural experiences

One of the highlights of the year for Mrs. H.’s students was a pretend field trip to South Africa she organized, meticulously planning each detail so students would have a wonderful experience. Students created their passports and booked air travel before “boarding” a plane piloted by Principal Jack Davern. After enjoying in-flight snacks, they landed and went on safari at Kruger National Park, learning about local wildlife. After touring a few more destinations, they visited a “gift shop” with unique souvenirs.

This creative and fun learning experience is a testament to Mrs. H.’s dedication to providing her students with global teaching and perspectives without ever leaving the classroom. 

Not only did Mrs. H.’s class travel to South Africa, but they also embraced other meaningful cultural experiences by celebrating holidays like Diwali, Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, and many others.

One parent’s sentiments show how special Mrs. H.’s classroom truly is:

“I have no words to express my gratitude for my son’s teacher, Mrs. Haripershad. She has been an amazing educator for my son. Her kindness and her ability to make each kid feel special is what makes her the best teacher. She makes learning fun and meaningful by providing her students with real-life learning experiences.”

Innovative leadership and continuous learning

Mrs. H. is also a leader at her school, working toward improvements and sharing her knowledge and skills. She served as her grade level chair this year and as an elected member of the school improvement team. She is also the garden club advisor and leads the creation of the school yearbook.

Mrs. H. mentors and guides other Ambassador Teachers by serving as a local advisor and a peer mentor. She is able to lead others and educate globally because of her dedication to continuous learning. While living in the U.S., Mrs. H. earned her master’s degree in teacher leadership. She has also learned a new math and reading curriculum, which she assisted other teachers with implementing.

Additionally, Mrs. H. helps her students learn in all sorts of creative ways. They often go outside to the school garden to learn math, and they plant vegetables to help address the local and global issues of ending hunger, improving health, and supporting sustainable production and consumption.

Mrs. H. is truly a dynamic teacher, full of creativity and care for her students. When Participate Learning staff and her husband surprised her with the Teacher of the Year award, she was speechless! As her students cheered, she accepted the award and expressed her joy and gratitude. 

The surprise was perfectly timed as the students were already gathered to celebrate their book launch. As a class, they wrote and published a book about their virtual field trip to Kruger National Park and all their learning about South Africa. Everyone dressed up in their best outfits, and Mrs. H. set up the room with a red carpet and VIP seats for every student to celebrate their accomplishment. Little did she know that they would be celebrating her, too! 

We can’t think of a more deserving recipient, and we thank Mrs. H. for her dedication to teaching globally and to her school community.

We would like to thank all our Ambassador Teachers, U.S. partner teachers, and school partners who submitted interest forms, nominations, and applications for this year’s awards. Thank you for educating the next generation of thoughtful and engaged citizens who will be ready to succeed and make a positive impact.

If you’d like to learn more about teaching in the U.S. with Participate Learning, see our requirements and application process.

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