Andria Zafirakou is an arts and textiles teacher at Brent’s Alperton Community School in North-West London, one of UK’s most deprived areas.Zafirakou is the first UK or Greek teacher to ever win the prestigious annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
In a ceremony that took place in Dubai, Prime Minister Theresa May awarded the tireless teacher saying: “You have shown enormous dedication and creativity in your work.
“Being a great teacher requires resilience, ingenuity and a generous heart. These are the qualities that you share with your students every day. So, thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
Zafirakou who apart from the recognition was also awarded £717,000 accepted her prize in tears thanking her students.
“The community where I teach in Brent is beautifully diverse and indeed is one of the most multicultural communities in the world. It is also a community where many of our students unfortunately live in challenging circumstances. They have tough lives,” the teacher who learned to communicate in all her students’ native languages said.
“What is amazing is whatever issues they are having at home, whatever is missing from their life or causing them pain, our school is theirs,” she added.
“I know if our school could open at six o’clock in the morning, there would be a queue of children waiting outside at five o’clock in the morning. That’s how phenomenal they are.”
Zafirakou came first amongst 30,000 entries, from 173 countries not only for her attitude as an educator, but for her efforts outside the school, raising awareness and being pro-active to help better her students’ lives.