How one ‘everyday hero’ can change a life [interview]

Jaz Ampaw-Farr

Born into poverty, sexual abuse and neglect, Jaz Ampaw-Farr believed that she was worthless. But five teachers disagreed, and together embedded an ambitious resilience that saved her from a life of prostitution, crime and drugs. Jaz has spent the rest of her life paying them back. Qualifying as a teacher in 1994, she is a respected literacy expert, consulted by governments worldwide. Jaz is also a TV presenter, media expert, speaker, coach, trainer and author of Because of You, This is Me.

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Image credit: Twitter // @jazampawfarr. Image credit: Twitter // @jazampawfarr.

You may know Jaz Ampaw-Farr from her famous TEDxNorwichED talk ‘The power of everyday heroes’ - or perhaps from when she was fired from The Apprentice for a particularly daring move. Jaz is a teacher who has taken her survival of childhood abuse, including sexual assault, and has become an unstoppable force of resilience, positivity and passion.


In this exclusive video interview, Jaz discusses topics such as teacher resilience, going off-script, and the five teachers who helped her get where she is today. Here are some choice excerpts from the interview, which you can watch in full below.


On why she became the Resilience Ninja that she is today:


“Everyone in my personal life knew my story - it’s never been a secret - but professionally I was hiding. I wasn’t smiling ‘til Christmas, playing this role that wasn’t me. I think what suddenly happened was that I just decided that, like all teachers, maybe I’m better than that, maybe I’m worth more than that. Maybe ‘me’ is valuable!”


On the emotional reaction she gets from teachers:


“When I come off stage, there are always people crying. I really should buy shares in Kleenex, because people cry all the time.”


On the power of a biscuit:


“In my class I always have biscuits, because my kids will come in having not eaten. There’s no point me talking about the Great Fire of London if they’re starving - so let’s give them a biscuit! Thankfully, I know that feeling myself [from my own time in school], so it was an easy jump for me. Given government demands, people get caught up in just trying to survive, and teachers are so much more than [what’s expected of them].”


YouTube link


You can find out more about Jaz’s work at www.jazampawfarr.com. Her book, Because of You, This is Me, is available to pre-order now.


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