On Wednesday 17 October 2018, our speaker was Andria Zafirakou – recent winner of the prize for the World’s Greatest Teacher. With Andria, we were delighted to host Councillor Ajay Maru, past Mayor of the London Borough of Harrow, and four local Rotary Clubs.
Andria was born in North-West London to Greek-Cypriot parents and went to school in North London. She always wanted to be a teacher. She has been a teacher for her whole career of 12 years at Alperton Community School in London.
She is the 2018 winner of the Global Teacher Prize – a $1 million award by the Varkey Foundation to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. This year, there were over 30,000 applicants. She was nominated for the prize by someone who she had worked with years before, and she finished her application at the eleventh hour – a day before her wedding!! She barely had time to complete the application by the deadline.
The nominees were judged on, among other things
- the progress made by pupils;
- achievements outside the classroom; and in
- helping children become “global citizens”
Andria is teaching some of the most disadvantaged, ethnically diverse children in the country – 35 languages are spoken in the school. “Deprivation is when you have got six or seven separate families living in one house, sleeping one family to a room, sharing one bathroom and rotating the use of the kitchen”.
Andria uses art to unlock pupils’ creativity and confidence. She visits their homes to understand their family lives, and personally escorts them off the school premises on to buses at the end of the day, to protect them from violence. Andria wants to use the $1m prize to focus on 2 main things:
- Unlocking pupils’ creativity and confidence – Andria has set up a charity ‘Artists in Residence’ which aims to bring prestigious artists into schools and enable students to envision an exciting world where they can play a part. This programme is not just about celebrities performing inspirational speeches; it is about real exposure to inspirational experiences, lasting creative relationships, and inspiring children to start a journey into artistic industries.
- Andria’s second focus is on improving the reputation and worth of teachers around the world – she talked about teachers having to have 2nd or 3rd jobs to just survive and pay the bills
Andria spent a substantial amount of time talking about and showing the art work produced by children from different backgrounds and experiences – poverty, war, etc. She proved herself a superb teacher of the Club, as well as the epitome of her profession!