British inner-city teacher named world’s best, wins $1 million prize

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British school teacher Andria Zafirakou reacts after winning the Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, March 18, 2018. (AP)
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British school teacher Andria Zafirakou, left accepts the Global Teacher Prize trophy from Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday, March 18, 2018. (AP)
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British teacher Andria Zafirakou (L) receives the "Global Teacher Prize" from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (C), Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during an award ceremony in Dubai on March 18, 2018. (AFP)
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British teacher Andria Zafirakou (L) receives the "Global Teacher Prize" from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during an award ceremony in Dubai on March 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2018
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British inner-city teacher named world’s best, wins $1 million prize

DUBAI: Briton Andria Zafirakou, who works in a school in one of the UK’s poorest areas, on Sunday won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2018 at a star-studded ceremony in Dubai.
The arts and textiles teacher from the Alperton Community College of Brent, an inner-city school in London, was among 10 finalists from around the globe for the annual award. Thirty thousand candidates were in the running.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and British Prime Minister Theresa May were among the first to congratulate her.
“Congratulations to Andria Zafirakou for having won the Global Teacher award,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed after handing her the prize.
He said teaching “is the greatest job” ever, and described teachers as “stars.”
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 everyday.
“So thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton raced to the venue to deliver the trophy while South African comedian Trevor Noah hosted the event which included a performance by Oscar-winning actress and Grammy award winning singer Jennifer Hudson.
Brent, where Zafirakou teaches, is considered an ethnically diverse and disadvantaged area and many of her students come from impoverished homes.
The area is also rife with gang violence and Zafirakou faced “a daunting task when she joined the school,” the organizers said in a statement.
“But throughout the school and on the streets she is driving change” working “closely with the police to identify potential issues and (gang) recruiters.”
She redesigned the school’s curriculum “to resonate with an ethnically diverse student body” and learnt the basics of some of the 35 languages spoken at the school to communicate with parents and students.
Zafirakou also “reworked the school’s timetable to allow girls-only sport, important in a conservative community. The result? A cup-winning girls’ cricket team,” the statement said.
Her hard work paid and placed Alperton Community College “in the top five percent in England and Wales for improving pupils’ achievement.”
The Dubai-based Varkey Foundation organized the event, the fourth time it has handed out the prize for best teacher.
The winner will walk away with $1 million which will be paid in equal instalments over 10 years on one condition — she continues teaching for at least five years.


WWE stars soften up to Jeddah children to introduce anti-bullying campaign

Updated 25 April 2018
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WWE stars soften up to Jeddah children to introduce anti-bullying campaign

  • Al-Oula is a non-profit organization targeted to break the cycle of poverty
  • WWE stars sat down in front of 30 students from the institution

Jeddah: The children of Al-Oula –- a non-profit organization targeted to break the cycle of poverty –- had the most thrilling school trip as they came to see World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars Mojo Rawley and Mark Henry in King Abdullah stadium on Tuesday.
The stars sat down in front of 30 students from the institution and softened up as they shared stories from their childhood and introduced their anti-bullying campaign “Be a Star.”
The stars shared personal stories and the difficulties they have faced.
Dean Muhtadi, 31, better known by his ring name Mojo Rawley, told the children: “We are different in many ways but sometimes you have to focus on the similarities and positive aspects of others.”
Mark Henry, 46, opened up about his past: “When I was young people would call me names and were mean to me, so I decided to become the strongest person in the world.
“I won three world championships in three different world countries that had nothing to do with each other and I am very proud of myself for not letting the mean comments get to my head.”
Henry was world heavyweight champion, and is also a two-time Olympian and a gold medalist at the Pan American Games.
Later the children had the chance to talk directly with the stars. Rawley is originally Palestinian, so he spoke in Arabic with some of the children.
Henry told one of the students: “If someone is troubling you, don’t give them the satisfaction of letting the comments or actions affect you, and immediately tell your teacher or your parents or any adult, and they will help you through your problems.”
The children then took pictures and were given tickets to the WWE Royal Rumble show on Friday.
“Jeddah is a very family-friendly and a culture-loving city, so I love being here,” Henry told Arab News. “The only difference is the language. Apart from that everyone is very nice and warm.”
On the Royal Rumble, he said: “Get ready for the best entertainment you have ever seen with your own eyes.”
“For someone who comes from an Arab background, this is a historic achievement and it will be remembered for ever,” Rawley said in an interview with Arab News.
“When I first found out that we agreed to a ten-year partnership, it was the coolest thing to find out.
“I am very fortunate to be a part of this long-term partnership which will give the citizens a long time to understand and give us enough time to develop our brand here in Saudi Arabia.
“Last year the show in Riyadh was a small, non-televised show but it was one of the coolest experiences of my life, so I am very excited to perform in this grand-scale show. It’s going to be an amazing show. It will rival Wrestle Mania, which is the biggest event of the year.”
Jana Marwan, a nine-year-old student, said: “Everyone told us that the wrestlers were scary but they weren’t. In fact they were very friendly. They taught us how to look out for ourselves and I had so much fun. I am thankful to them.”