An "outstanding" Brent teacher has won an incredible million-dollar (£717,000) prize after being shortlisted from 30,000 entries worldwide.
Andria Zafirakou, who works at Alperton Community School in Wembley, scooped the fourth annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
The winner of the award, which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, was revealed at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday (March 18).
Ms Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher, has learnt how to say basic greetings in many of the 35 languages spoken at the school, including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Portuguese, to help parents feel welcome and included.
She redesigned the curriculum with fellow teachers to make it relevant to pupils, helped set up girls-only sports clubs for those from conservative communities and is also known for taking the time to understand students' lives by visiting their homes and even joining them on the bus.
'Our school is theirs'
Ms Zafirakou, accepting her award, said: "The community where I teach in Brent is beautifully diverse and indeed is one of the most multicultural communities in the world."
She added: "It is also a community where many of our students unfortunately live in challenging circumstances. They have tough lives."
She went on: "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."
Alperton Community School is in one of the poorest areas of the country and pupils come from a variety of backgrounds.
Ms Zafirakou said her school community was a "huge family", and has previously described teaching a classroom full of students from different backgrounds as "nothing but a good thing".
"I think it's a beautiful challenge," she said, "because I think diversity is what makes our school so exciting and just buzzing."
The other finalists, drawn from 30,000 entries from 173 countries, are from Turkey, South Africa, Colombia, Philippines, United States, Brazil, Belgium, Australia and Norway.
Ms Zafirakou will receive one million US dollars and be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation.
She will be required to remain working as a classroom teacher for at least five years and will be paid the prize money in equal instalments.
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