Mona Al-Hayani

High school history teacher
Toledo (OH) Federation of Teachers

Mona Al-HayaniPeople can be shocked to learn that Toledo, Ohio, ranks fourth among cities when it comes to arrests and investigations related to child sex trafficking, according to the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. Mona Al-Hayani, a Toledo high school history teacher, is working in tandem with her union to turn that shock into something far more constructive: information that sparks action.

The teacher has conducted research and developed training for students and school practitioners to increase awareness about the problem of human sex trafficking. Much of this work was supported through Al-Hayani’s participation in the AFT Teacher Leaders Program and through her local union, the Toledo Federation of Teachers, which selected her to be its director of human trafficking and social justice issues.

"The Teacher Leaders Program taught me how to look at social justice issues and figure out a way that teachers can work with the community" to address and solve problems, says Al-Hayani, whose work recently was recognized with a nomination for the 2016 Ohio Liberator Awards, created to unite people throughout the state who are working for the same cause: fighting human trafficking. Her work has fostered a community partnership between the Toledo Federation of Teachers and the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition; she chairs the coalition’s school education subcommittee and is tasked with providing training to schools in the county. 

It’s the type of empowering work that one teacher was able to accomplish in large measure because of her union membership. “To me, union membership is about having a platform to connect with community and fight for political, social and economic justice,” Al-Hayani says. “I believe that education is the path to justice, and my union sets out on this path each and every day.”