Andria Zafirakou beat out nine other finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, a million-dollar award, which she was given in Dubai last year. However, rather than going on a shopping spree or clocking out to retire early, Zafirakou is using the money to create a new program called Artists in Residence.
The program first launched at the London school where she teaches, and will expand to 30 schools in disadvantaged communities, before rolling out to London, then all of the U.K. in 2019. Artists in Residence will step in to help bring artists and creative professionals to stay in residence at the schools for fixed periods of time. It comes at an important time as arts programming and funding have been cut in a number of places across the nation.
It’s perhaps no surprise that Zafirakou decided to use her windfall to further the opportunities presented to her students and others across the U.K. The annual prize is judged on a teacher’s ability to foster their students into global citizens, their achievements outside their classroom, and the progress made by their pupils.
“This is our time, this is the time for the arts, we are going to make a change and do something quite incredible,” Zafirakou told the Guardian. “I knew what I had to do, I had to start a mission, a crusade, to help fix a mess, to raise the profile of arts in our schools.”