Yang Boya(L) and Ronnie Cheng(R)
Two Chinese teachers have, for the first time, been named on the top-50 shortlist for the annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, a prestigious international award.
Ronnie Cheng, headmaster of the Diocesan Boys' School in Hong Kong, and Yang Boya, a psychology teacher at The Affiliated Middle School of Kunming Teachers College in Yunnan province, were picked from more than 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries by the London-based foundation.
Now in its third year, the Global Teacher Prize was created to recognize exceptional teachers who make outstanding contributions to the profession.
The winner will receive million.
Yang, 28, said she was surprised by her nomination.
"It was so surreal because of my age. I thought I was too young to be in the category, so I kept rereading the email saying I've been selected."
She added: "The freedom of teaching and the creativity in exchanging ideas with my students is why I got into this job. I also come from a family of teachers, as both my parents are in the profession."
"As a psychologist as well as a teacher, I support and counsel some students who need someone to talk to," Yang said. "Afterward, some tell me they feel much better for talking to someone or tell me that I am a huge support for them."
Ronnie Cheng created an award-winning, world No 1-ranked male choir. Many of his students have gone on to become professional musicians.
Cheng also set up the Diocesan Boys' School Foundation to support underprivileged students with financial or medical difficulties.
The top 50 shortlisted teachers will be reduced to 10 candidates by a prize committee that will be announced in February, with a winner chosen in March.