|14 Nov 2022
|2017 Finalists Global Teacher Prize
Wemerson studied Biological Sciences at university and became a teacher shortly after graduating. His first school was located in a suburb with a very high crime rate, often involving the parents of students, and on many occasions the students themselves. He found his teaching colleagues demotivated; the school drop-out rate was high at 50% and children were not interested in learning.
He invited teachers and administrators to improve the vision of the school, along with the local community, with which they worked on a social project titled: “Young Scientists: Designing a New Future”. This focused on improving the behaviour of students inside the school.
To create a dynamic method for teaching science classes, he added parody songs to the curriculum, in order to make classes more energised and united. To bring to life the rather dry classroom activity of studying the periodic table, Wemerson took his students out to research the polluted mud and water conditions of the nearby Rio Doce, considered a local environmental catastrophe. Taking samples and analysing chemicals in the water back at the school laboratory, combined with interviews with the community and a visit to the laboratory of the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES), they found and implemented a solution to the main problem for the riverside community.
Through all these activities, the school was able to rescue 90% of students from the world of drugs and crime over a four-year period. Today it is considered the best school in the city, and has contributed to reducing drug trafficking and violence by 70% in a community once marginalised and feared by all residents.
In 2014, Wemerson’s work was recognised with the SEDU Best Practice award for innovation in the classroom, his environmental projects earned him the Nota 10 Educator Award, given to the 10 best teachers of Brazil and he has ambitions to help students who are financially stretched, train teachers, further his own studies and build a science and technology lab in his hometown.
A professor in education is much more than just a human being conveying theoretical, scientific and practical knowledge to students in schools. As a matter of fact, an educator is an instrument for making all members of a society jointly responsible of the learning and development process of their children and teenagers.