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Two Australian teachers in running for $1 million Global Teacher Prize

13 December 2018

Schools Plus is delighted to announce that two of our 2018 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award recipients have been named as Top 50 finalists for the prestigious $US1 million Global Teacher Prize.  

This is the second year in a row that our Teaching Fellows have been named as Global Teacher Prize finalists. Last year, maths teacher and YouTube sensation Eddie Woo made it to the Prize’s Top 10 and was among three Teaching Fellows named in the Top 50.

Established by the Varkey Foundation in 2014, the annual Prize recognises and celebrates the impact that exceptional teachers have around the world – not only on their students, but on their communities.

Today’s announcement that two Australians are among the best educators in the world follows a partnership struck last year between education charity Schools Plus, which co-presents the Commonwealth Bank Te aching Awards, and the Varkey Foundation, which runs the Global Teacher Prize. As part of the partnership, recipients of the Australia-wide Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards are specifically invited to apply for the coveted Global Teacher Prize.

The Australian educators who have been named in the Prize’s Top 50 finalists are:

•    Peter Gurrier-Jones, Principal, The Hills School (Northmead, NSW)
•    Yasodai Selvakumaran, Teacher, Rooty Hill High School (Rooty Hill, NSW)

Peter Gurrier-Jones is Principal at The Hills School in north-west Sydney which caters for more than 100 students with developmental disabilities and complex learning needs; 80 per cent of the school’s students are non-verbal.

“I’m over the moon to be rpeter and yaso2ecognised in the Global Teacher Prize Top 50,” Peter said.

“It’s a sensational acknowledgement of the work and love of all the teachers, support staff, families and community who help kids at The Hills School learn and succeed through challenging lives. I’m just ecstatic to be teaching these kids and to have the chance to share our school’s story with the world.”

Yasodai Selvakumaran currently teaches history, society and culture and geography at western Sydney’s Rooty Hill High School, where she’s known as ‘Ms Selva’ to her students.

“This is a career milestone beyond anything I’d imagined when starting out in education. This is an opportunity to represent Australia, which isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about as a teacher. Until recently, no such prize even existed!” Yasodai said.

“I am so thankful to the communities I’m a part of, as teaching is a collaborative profession. That’s actually what I love about it – working towards a common vision to seek success for all students is an amazing responsibility and privilege. No achievement reflects just one teacher but many people.”

Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said the international agreement between Schools Plus and the Varkey Foundation reflected not only the outstanding quality of Australia’s teachers and principals, but also the high regard in which the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards were held.  

“This year’s Prize attracted more than 10,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world, so to have our Teaching Fellows named amongst the Top 50 educators in the world is incredibly exciting,” Ms Conn said.  

“We already know how talented and dedicated Peter and Yasodai are, and the difference they are making to their students’ lives; we’re thrilled their hard work is now being brought to global attention. Our partnership with the Varkey Foundation shines a spotlight on the work that goes on in Australian schools every day, to transform the future for individual students and their communities.”  

The 2019 Global Teacher Prize will be awarded in Dubai on Sunday 24 March 2019 at the Global Education and Skills Forum. For interviews with Rosemary Conn, Peter Gurrier-Jones or Yasodai Selvakumaran, please contact Carisa Mitchell at Schools Plus: 0428 106 183 or cmitchell@schoolsplus.org.au

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