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News 2 > Global Teacher Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize > Estefany Mella Cuevas

Estefany Mella Cuevas

Dominican Republic 

Estefany envisaged being a teacher from a very young age. After her training at the Salome Ureña Higher Institute for Teacher Training and Anacaona Primary School, she obtained excellent results teaching primary school literacy and was subsequently motivated by her school principal, Dalireinis, to teach mathematics to children aged 10-14 due to the weaknesses that existed in this area and the children’s lack of interest. This was a significant readjustment as it involved teaching older children with different challenges in a different subject. The students at Estefany’s school also face a number of difficulties – such as water shortages, environmental pollution, poverty, lack of Internet connection, neglect, and loneliness. Some children even take home the food provided at school to share with their families.

At the beginning of Estefany’s teaching journey in mathematics, her students were not fully engaged and motivated: academic performance was poor and grades were below the minimum. Finding strategies to rouse interest in the subject was a complex matter of trial and error: often, Estefany wanted to give up. As time passed, however, she expanded her knowledge and finally found a solution – to get the students interested in mathematics via technology and robotics. She also took the opportunity to study for a diploma in educational programming and robotics, to see if she could implement the subject in a more sustained way with her students. When the school finally gained access to a robotics kit, the results filled Estefany with joy and satisfaction, and seeing her students' excitement was a priceless experience. Her students now love to write programs and build robots, and the only limitation of this activity is that the school currently only has one robotics kit. Estefany feels that developing these skills in her students is the best thing she has so far been able to do in her professional life, and their results have continued to improve.

Thanks to the Dominican Republic government and the Ministry of Education, which assigned tablets to each child, the teaching process has become easier for Estefany – although the school’s Internet connection is still precarious. Estefany has taught her students to get the very most out of these tablets. Students have become participants in robotics Olympiads at the district and regional levels, and parents are very happy with how their children are training and developing. At the beginning of the robotics programme, 50 out of 60 students were evaluated as not meeting educational benchmarks – but after all the effort and innovation that has occurred, that number has reduced to just 10 out of 60. Everything is a process and Estefany knows that she can achieve more.

If Estefany wins the Global Teacher Prize, she will use the funds to create a science and technology lab, improve the Internet network in school, equip her centre and others with robotics kits to promote these skills, construct a children’s playground, and provide two school buses for children who live far away from school.

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