Sri Lankan-born Australian Yasodai Selvakumaran has been named a finalist for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman did the honours, announcing the list of 10 from a field of 10,000 applicants spanning 179 countries.
The actor known for his role as Wolverine in X-Men said teachers are “the real superheroes…the ones that change the world.”
Yasodai Selvakumaran is fondly known as Ms Selva to her humanities students at Rooty Hill High School.
More than 10,000 teachers from around the world were nominated, but Selvakumaran was the only Australian to make the top 10.
“Something I really strive for with my students is for them to understand they have a place in the world and to help them find their voice,” she said.
“That’s why it’s so important to teach the humanities, and it’s so important for students to see that Australia is multicultural and they do belong here.”
This year, Selvakumaran’s fellow top 10 teachers hail from all around the globe, with educators from Japan, Brazil, India, Georgia, The Netherlands, the UK, and the USA also making the final cut.
The winner will take home $1 million in prize money to use towards an innovative education project of their choice.
Born in Sri Lanka, Selvakumaran’s Tamil family moved to Australia when she was 10 months old and quickly settled in the western NSW town of Hay.
The head teacher of Humanities at Rooty Hill High, Thelma Vuki, said it is her ability to connect with students from all backgrounds that makes Selvakumaran unique.