founder of naked leader
Time to Read: 3 minutes
THERE was a quote on a recent BBC5 Live news item about education where a school pupil remarked: “Being a good teacher is not all about what happens in the classroom.”
Well, there couldn’t be a more extraordinary example of that than art and textiles teacher Andria Zafirakou.
Incredibly, and rather awe-inspiringly for her and all those around her, she has just become the winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize for her dynamic leadership and dedication at Alperton Community School, Wembley, North London.
How cool is that?
And her core belief which got her to that lofty pinnacle?
“Simply, to be kind to people,” she says. “To care about people and I believe as a teacher I have a duty of care to do the right thing. So I can go to sleep with a guilt-free conscience each night knowing I have given my best.”
A previous colleague nominated her for the award and Andria found herself propelled up through the rankings of literally thousands to the very summit, with Bill Gates, here introducing the judging process and finalists.
So how did she feel on receiving the honour? “I was in total shock and disbelief,” she recalls. “To think someone went out of their way to nominate me was so amazing.”
Andria treats her pupils as if they were her own, one young child calling her a hero to him, for guiding him in the right direction. Many of her students come from under-privileged backgrounds or have learning difficulties and yet Andria is clearly able to have a special connection with them.
“They are my heroes too because, against all odds, and some of them have experienced unimaginable horrors, they have achieved,” she adds.
“That shows what can happen in a good learning and good teaching environment. “I try to connect with others. They are my children and I have to make sure I’ve got them.
“It’s about being interested in other people’s worlds.
“If I’m helping others to be happy, then I’m happy.”
Naked Leader’s Claire Kidd, also with a background in the design and technology sector, believes it is no coincidence that Andria is able to communicate so effectively with those she teaches, many for whom English is a second language.
“If you take away the discipline of the arts, you lose a very powerful mental tool, a means of accessing thinking that is denied a route of expression within other subjects,” says Claire. “Andria uses a practical and hands-on approach which unlocks that language barrier, to unleash their potential.
“On a broader point, many of the world’s best and most prolific entrepreneurs and businesses have emerged from the UK in this field of academia, founders such as James Dyson or Cath Kidston, or the head of design at Apple Jonathan Ive – ultimately industries that create huge wealth, economic growth, job security and wellbeing. We need to ensure the next generation have full access to these subjects at a time when the specification of the Ebacc is diminishing participation even at primary school level. We cannot afford as a society for our young people’s talent to go unrealised.”
Andria, who will continue teaching in her own passionate and infectious style, is determined to use her new-found fame to good use. She has received numerous invites and has been recognised by the likes of Labour politician, MP Sharon Hodgson with cross party support at the recent All Party Parliamentary Group for Art Craft and Design in Education, urging parents to engage fully in what the arts are capable of instilling in children for the emerging jobs of tomorrow.
“I have two choices,” she says. “To be normal, enjoy the moment and then watch it fizzle out. Or make a difference, to use my voice to support teachers and students all over the world.
“To promote this profession I love and feel passionate about. I feel I have a responsibility to do that.”
Her motto is clear and summed up during her acceptance speech: “Whatever your circumstances, whatever your troubles, please know, that you have the potential to succeed in whatever your dreams may be. That is a right nobody should take from you.”
Inspirational words – and nobody can ever take away from Andria what is truly a mind-blowing accolade.
Wow! Thank you Andria. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for future Leader Features please email Clivebarrett@nakedleader.com.
Next month Clive is speaking to Peter McCartney, another award winning leader.
With my love and best wishes to you all