Hetty van Gurp is a lifelong activist and educator who served for over three decades as a school teacher and principal. She founded Peaceful Schools International in 2001, after a year spent working with educators in post-conflict regions of the world including Cambodia, Serbia and Macedonia.
But the roots of the organization go back 10 years earlier, to the day Hetty received the worst news a parent can ever hear. Her 14-year-old son Ben was injured after being thrown violently to the ground by a student who had bullied him. He later died of his injuries.
The idea for PSI originated in the weeks after Ben passed away, when Hetty, still consumed by grief, looked up at the empty flagpole of the school where she taught. She turned to a colleague and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day schools could earn the right to fly a flag declaring they are places of peace?”
Starting with that notion, Hetty went on to found the League of Peaceful Schools, which recognized schools in Nova Scotia fostering a peaceful environment.
In 2001, Hetty founded Peaceful Schools International.
You can read a full history here: Peaceful-Schools-International-History
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