Andria Zafirakou, art and textile teacher at Alperton Community School has been shortlisted to the final 50 for the Varkey Foundation’s £1 million Global Teacher Prize.
Andria joined our school in 2005 as a Newly Qualified Teacher, and has grown to now hold a role as class teacher and member of the Senior Leadership Team, leading on staff professional development and driving the curriculum redesign priorities. Andria is home grown and a stellar model of what a teacher can be when they are rooted in their local community. She has such depth of understanding of the deprivation levels that are real for her students and she does a lot more than empathise.
Andria is the teacher that used to purchase new uniforms for her students to ensure they could enter the school without the socio-economic challenges as their label. Through her strategic role, she has driven an initiative which offers every pupil a new uniform when they begin in year 7. She tracked what appeared to be truancy for a number of pupils, quickly recognising that they were returning home to cook meals for their families because they lived in shared accommodation and had strict timetables for the kitchen. She is the teacher that pupils trust enough to share why they can’t attend after school revision clubs: because they need to be on time to pick up their younger siblings at local primary schools whilst their parents work. Andria’s understanding of the impact of poverty on the sense of self spearheaded an initiative to embed mindfulness across the curriculum, systemically ensuring every pupil has developed techniques which gave them ownership of their reflections and balance to develop their resilience and strength of mind. Andria uses the fundamental community context to inform curriculum innovation, teaching and learning, and development of enrichment activities. She also ensures this context anchors her strategy for the professional development of new and existing teachers at the school.
“My students deserve the best, they inspire me and enthuse me with their love of learning, energy and resilience. Regardless of their socio-economic factors, I want them to acknowledge that they have no limits to what they can achieve, and that is what makes teaching them an extraordinary experience and a privilege.”
“I get upset when I reflect on the living conditions and the levels of poverty that our families experience. Some of our children have very little and coming to Alperton every morning enables them to feel part of a community where they are not judged, where they are cared for and where they know they will achieve success.”
“I feel privileged, humbled and honoured to be shortlisted for this incredible award. There are so many phenomenal teachers in this world who are doing an amazing job everyday and are changing young people’s lives for the better. To be recognised as someone worthy of this award is a true reflection of my school and how incredible and inspiration our staff and students are. After all, I am who I am because of them all. Thank you to the Varkey Foundation and Sunny Varkey for making this possible and believing in teachers.”
Headteacher Gerard McKenna added:
“The school is immensely proud of the recognition that Andria has gained through the nomination because she never shines a light on her efforts and achievements. Andria is a genuine teacher – her moral purpose steers the mission of growing the future, overcoming any barriers to achieve their true potential.”
You can find out more about the Varkey Foundation here: www.varkeyfoundation.org
You can find out more about the Global Teacher Prize here: www.globalteacherprize.org