A Maritimer working in northern Quebec has been named the top teacher in the world, and there’s nobody more excited and proud of her than her family in Nova Scotia’s Antigonish County.

Maggie MacDonnell was awarded the annual Global Teacher Prize during a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beating out thousands of applicants from around the world.

She's established a number of programs to help youth at Ikusik High School in Salluit, everything from job mentoring to suicide prevention training.

Her father, Grant MacDonnell, says Maggie was always community-minded.

“She would recognize that there was a need for (community),” he said. “She'd recognize all her life that there was a need for different things.”

Clare MacDonnell was living in Salluit when she called her sister Maggie about a teaching job in the communityin 2010. Claire was working as a social worker, and she saw the impact that her sister was having on the community first-hand.

“I wasn't surprised,” Clare MacDonnell said. “My sister is persistent. She's driven. She's creative and she cares, so I knew that she was happy to do that kind of work and she really enjoys working with young people.”

MacDonnell got her education degree from St. Francis Xavier Univeristy in 2002. Professor Angie Kolen still remembers her and how she seemed destined to make a change.

“Seeing what Maggie's doing, I'm not surprised she was selected,” said Kolen. “She's really making an impact. It reminded me of the gal she was, the promise she already showed here at X when she would have been 21, 22 years old.”

MacDonnell is hoping to use the prize money to start an environmental stewardship program for northern youth, focused on kayaking. 

Her sister isn't surprised.

“I'm very proud of her and I'm very, very proud that the opportunity has been taken to shine a light on the north and to bring attention to that community, which is very special in my heart and hers,” said Clare MacDonnell.

MacDonnell's mother, Orillia, is still in Dubai with her daughter and is expected to be home on Friday. The family is hoping Maggie and her husband will visit Antigonish sometime in the summer.

With files from CTV Atlanitc’s Dan MacIntosh.