Andria Zafirakou, a British instructor for arts and textiles, recently won the one million dollar prize that comes with the title of World’s Best Teacher.
Zafirakou teaches in the north-west of London at a community school. She is the first prize winner from the United Kingdom to receive the Global Teacher Prize.
British Instructor wins the Global Teacher Prize
The ceremony for Zafirakou was held in Dubai on Sunday. Theresa May and Tony Blair, U.K. Prime Minister, and Former Prime Minister respectively, as well as Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice President were there in attendance.
During her speech, Zafirakou talked to the influence of the arts and their place in education. She brought real examples from her students, showing some of the most frequent hardships they face.
The area where Zafirakou works is one of the most impoverished communities in her region. There are students from all different backgrounds living in this area. Zafirakou, wanting to connect with her students, took the time to learn terminology in Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil. These are just three of the 130 languages that are spoken in this area.
Because of her dedication to her students and offering to lend them an ear, Zafirakou learned about her student’s home lives. Through this, she determined that many of the students live in areas that multiple families share. Furthermore, the students confess that their environment is so loud that in order to concentrate on their homework, they have to retreat into the bathroom for a moment of relative peace.
In order to counteract this issue, the British instructor created quiet spaces and extended her lessons. Zafirakou also changed the curriculum herself to better fit her students. She also started a girl’s specific sports club.
The Global Teacher Prize’s goal is to recognize hard-working teachers around the world. Finalists from this year hailed from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, and the U.S.