“She’s like a hero to me. She really is.”
These are the words used by a student at Alperton Community School in Brent, West London in the UK to describe his art and textiles teacher, Andria Zafirakou. Andria is not only a hero to this student, but to all of her students, to her colleagues, and to the community.
She’s also the winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.
This prestigious $1 million US award is given out annually to a single teacher from anywhere in the world who’s judged to have made the most significant contribution to their profession.
Having heard Andria’s story and understanding all she does to make sure every single one of her students reaches their full potential, we’re feeling pretty inspired here at Teach Away. We’re hoping Andria can inspire you, too. Here are some of Andria’s accomplishments at Alperton Community School that helped to define her as this year’s winner:
Andria uses her role as an art and textiles teacher to communicate with her students in ways not bound by language and culture. This is imperative to a productive learning environment at Alperton due to the fact that approximately 35 different languages are spoken there and 85% of students speak English as an additional language.
In a diverse multicultural neighborhood with poverty, gang activity and domestic violence, Andria goes above and beyond to protect her students. Not only does she personally accompany her students as they board their buses at the end of the day, but she works closely with local police and is acutely aware of any stirrings in her school’s backyard that could be signs of gang presence.
She’s established a boxing club to provide students with an opportunity to grow their confidence and self-esteem, while staying healthy and off the streets.
Andria leads the professional development charge at Alperton. In addition to constantly improving her own teaching skill set, she’s also taken it upon herself to provide opportunities for her colleagues to improve theirs. As a result, Alperton is one of only ten schools in the UK to earn the Quality Mark Platinum Award.
For more on Andria’s incredible involvement at Alperton Community School, check out this video: