Yasodai Selvakumaran has been recognised as an under-35 ‘rising star’ of Australian education by The Educator magazine for her commitment to her students and as a leader of other teachers.
A specialist in history and society and culture, she has taught broadly across the humanities faculty, with Rooty Hill High School students achieving above state average results over successive years.
Yasodai is recognised for her work in the classroom, expertise in mentoring, and collaborating for innovation. She is currently serving as an elected member of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association. Her current interests include teacher professional learning with a focus on signature and subject-based pedagogies and critical and creative thinking. She is also pursuing post-graduate study in Education Research part-time in order to better lead links between research and practice.
When she was 10-months-old, her Tamil parents migrated to Australia from the war in Sri Lanka and raised her in rural and regional Australia. Yasodai’s experiences drive her philosophy of education to create opportunities to help teachers and students be the best they can be.
Yasodai Selvakumaran is a passionate teacher and is in her ninth year in the profession.
Her Tamil parents left Sri Lanka when she was a small child and followed opportunities in rural and regional Australia. Yasodai went on to be vice-captain of Bathurst High School, attend Sydney University where she worked in education roles for the not-profits YWCA Sydney and Media Access Australia, and then joined the staff at Rooty Hill High School, a highly innovative school that she says fostered her own creativity and success as a teacher leader.
Recognised for this work last year as an under-35 rising star by The Educator magazine in 2018, she names one of her most rewarding moments as watching Rooty Hill High’s first cohort of Year 12 students involved with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) graduate from the outreach program at Sydney University. This was a result of a partnership she initiated with AIME in her time as Aboriginal Education Coordinator.
“The best thing is seeing the shift between Year 7 and when these students finish school. The proudest thing is watching them achieve things they never thought they could, and not necessarily academic results – it could be public speaking,” she says.
She is also recognised as an outstanding classroom teacher in human society and its environment and she is a highly regarded ‘teacher-leader’ who mentors and collaborates with pre-service teachers and teacher colleagues in school teams, forums, school visits, social media and master classes.
The change in what educators need to offer students to equip them for life beyond school has been monumental over her eight years of teaching, Yasodai says.
“Parents, media and others who pressure teachers over results fail to understand the complexities they must juggle,” she says.
“My passion is professional teacher learning, working with staff and making teachers the best they can be for their students.”
Yasodai is currently co-leading a school-wide project exploring the value of signature and subject-based pedagogies in secondary education.