UK Woman Named World’s Best Teacher And Given $1 Million Prize

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If you sit down and really think about teachers, they don’t get the credit they deserve. They’re tasked with shaping and moulding the minds of the future but with minimum resources and a rather meagre salary.

It’s a testament to the dedication made by these fine educators who’ve had to contend with schoolboard bureaucracy and a classroom of youngsters who’s attitudes and behaviour range from exemplary to disruptive. It’s a tough ask, which at times, can offer very little respite or plaudits.

However, it warms the heart to know some teachers out there are getting the recognition they deserve (but never really ask for), such as North London teacher, Andria Zafirakou, who’s been named the world’s best teacher.

She was also honoured with a $1 million (£717,000) prize for her hard work:

Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher from Alperton Community School in Brent, North West London, won the fourth annual Global Teacher Prize, becoming the first teacher in the UK to win it.

Among those to congratulate her was UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, who sent a video message to Zafirakou, who was in Dubai for the ceremony, reports the Independent.

In the video May praised Zafirakou, saying:

You have shown enormous dedication and creativity in your work. Being a great teacher requires resilience, ingenuity and a generous heart.

These are the qualities you share with your students every day. So, thank you for all you have done and continue to do.

During her acceptance speech Zafirakou paid tribute to the Brent community, which she described as one of the most ‘beautifully diverse’ and ‘multicultural communities in the world’.

She went on to say:

It’s also a community where many of our students unfortunately live in challenging circumstances. They have tough lives.

What is amazing, is whatever issues they are having at home, whatever is missing from their life or causing them pain, our school is theirs.

I know if our school could open at six o’clock in the morning, there would be a queue of children waiting outside at five o’clock in the morning. That’s how phenomenal they are.

In February a teacher in America caught headlines (for the right reasons) after she adopted her most ‘troublesome’ student, along with his little brother, and hopes to turn their lives around for the better.

Chelsea Haley met Jerome Robinson, a young student who experienced difficulties at school, while she was working with Teach For America, in 2013.

The fourth grader was Haley’s ‘most troublesome’ student, having been suspended numerous times for misbehaviour, yet the pair developed an ‘unlikely bond’, so much so, other teachers would send Robinson to Haley.

As she was coming towards the end of her term with Teach For America Haley recalled receiving a sign from God telling her she was destined to be his mother.

Uncannily, the very next day Robinson looked up from a test paper and asked Haley whether he could live with her. The pair went to Jerome’s mother the next day to talk.

Haley, who’d been planning to move to Georgia, recalled:

He just asked me if he could live with me. I told him I had been feeling the same. His mother said: ‘You can go… but I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.’

Chelsea Haley/Facebook

So Haley did and within months, she’d adopted the two boys. The family now resides in Marietta, Georgia and are thriving.

Haley told CNN:

At certain points, his behaviour got so bad, I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher’.

He used to fail all of his classes and didn’t care… now, he’s made honor roll both quarters of his eighth grade year so far.

I never thought I’d be a single mom at age 24, especially of two boys, one of which was my 12-year-old student and the other one who was only a year-and-a-half.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

Chelsea Haley/Facebook

Shout out to all the teachers across the globe who are doing a wonderful job, you guys are amazing.