UK Art Teacher Wins $1 Million Prize for Inner-City Work

Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), March 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

UK Art Teacher Wins $1 Million Prize for Inner-City Work


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A British art teacher won a highly competitive $1 million teaching prize on Sunday for her work with inner-city children in London, helping students feel welcome and safe in a borough with one of the highest murder rates in the country.

Andria Zafirakou, 39, beat out some 30,000 applicants from around the world to win the Global Teacher Prize, which honors one exceptional teacher per year who's made a significant contribution to the profession.

The Alperton Community School teacher was awarded for her work in the London borough of Brent, one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country. Her students come from some of the poorest families in Britain with parents who don't necessarily speak English.

She was credited for her efforts beyond the classroom, which include establishing relationships with parents, riding with students on the bus and standing at school gates with police officers to welcome students at the start of the day.

"It's always a nice thing sometimes to say hi to them in their language and then that just automatically makes them smile and it makes the connection with the child," she told The Associated Press.

Zafirakou is the first British teacher to win the award. Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated her in a video recording at the award ceremony.

"Being a great teacher requires resilience, ingenuity and a generous heart," the prime minister said. "These are the qualities that you share with your students every day. So, thank you for all you have done and continue to do."

Stunned and excited, the secondary school (high school) teacher began her speech saying, "Wow!"

She thanked her parents, who were in the audience, saying with laughter: "The Greek family have arrived. …

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