Hetty van Gurp

Hetty van Gurp

Hetty van Gurp (1949) is a Canadian educator and the founder of Peaceful Schools International, an organization that provides international support to schools committed to creating a culture of peace. She founded the organization after her son Ben died after a bullying incident 1991. [ [http://peacefulschoolsinternational.org Peaceful Schools International] . Retrieved 1/31/08.]

Teaching career

Hetty's teaching career has included extensive and varied assignments in Canada and the USA. In addition to teaching public school, she has taught students with special needs as a resource teacher and as a teacher of the blind. Hetty has also been principal of an elementary school in Nova Scotia. Currently, Hetty is a part-time member of the faculty of Mount Saint Vincent University.


Since 1991, Hetty has served as a peace education consultant to schools across Canada and internationally. During this time, she introduced the concept of peer mediation to schools in Nova Scotia and still regularly conducts training sessions for students, educators and community members. She is frequently consulted by members of the media on issues related to safe schools. Hetty is often invited to deliver the keynote address at local and national conferences.


Hetty has served on several national working groups to develop and coordinate guiding principles for safe schools. In 1998, she co-founded the League of Peaceful Schools in Nova Scotia. Following an extensive visit to Japan, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia in 2001, Hetty established Peaceful Schools International. In 1995, Hetty was appointed to a two-year term as a member of the federal Human Rights Tribunal Panel. In 1996, she was awarded the YMCA Peace Medal. The Nova Scotia School Administrators’ Association recognized her contribution to education by presenting her with the “Principal of Distinction” award in 1998. Also in 1998, Hetty was awarded a Baha’i Commendation for “Promoting Racial Harmony.” In 1999, she received the Annual Crime Prevention Society of Nova Scotia Award. Hetty was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2003. In July 2006, Hetty was presented with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation Special Recognition Award for meritorious service to education in 2006. Hetty was named as a Canadian hero by TIME magazine in June, 2006 and by readers Digest in January, 2007.


Hetty received her Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2005, an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree was bestowed on Hetty from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, based on her work as an educator, author, founder of Peaceful Schools International and her community work.

Hetty is author of three books: Peace in the Classroom, Peaceful Schools: Models that Work and Peer Mediation: A Complete Training Manual. Hetty is co-creator of the Peace@School toolkit. Time Magazine named her a "Canadian Hero" and she is one of the Readers Digest Canada's 2006 Heroes of the Year. [(2007) [http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2007/01/hero2006.php "Heroes of the Year"] , "Readers Digest Canada." Retrieved 1/31/08.]


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