British teacher Andria Zafirakou has won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize in a star-studded ceremony that was held in Dubai on Sunday.
Zafirakou works in one of the UK’s poorest areas and she was among the 10 finalists from around the globe in the running for the annual award.
Zafirakou was congratulated by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and British Prime Minister Theresa May shortly after the award ceremony.
“Congratulations to Andria Zafirakou for having won the Global Teacher award,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed , adding that teaching is the greatest job ever.
British Prime Minister May, in a video message broadcast at the gala event, said: “Being a great teacher requires resilience, ingenuity, and a generous heart. These are the qualities that you share with your students every day. So thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
Sunday’s event, which was hosted by Trevor Noah, saw Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton racing to the venue to deliver the trophy. It also included a performance by Jennifer Hudson.
Brent is one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country, and Zafirakou’s efforts to ensure all her students feel included has been lauded both by the teaching fraternity as well as parents.
But it has not been an easy task. Students at her school spoke a wide range of languages including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Portuguese, and Zafirakou has learnt basic greetings in as many as 35 languages as a step to connect with her pupils.
It has also helped her interact with parents who do not speak English.
Sunday’s event was the fourth time Dubai-based Varkey Foundation was organising the event. The winner will be paid $1 million in installments over the course of 10 years if she continues teaching for at least five more years.