Nine Illawarra teachers are finalists in the 2013 National Excellence in Teaching Awards for Inspirational Educators.
The awards, supported by the Australian Scholarships Group, recognise teachers from schools and early childhood centres for their outstanding contribution to education.
Almost 700 teachers across the country were yesterday named as finalists, with 166 from NSW, from the initial pool of 1558 finalists.
Hayes Park Public School kindergarten teacher Lisa Connelly doesn't know who nominated her for the award, but was honoured to be considered.
"It's amazing to know that people recognise the amount of work you put into teaching and being with children and supporting them in learning," she said.
"It's a lovely feeling to know people in your community and your peers and your students appreciate the hard work that goes into teaching," she added.
Mrs Connelly has been at Hayes Park for 12 of the 20 years she has been teaching and said the novelty of watching children get excited about learning something for the first time still hadn't worn off. She said the number of Illawarra teachers named as finalists was a testament to the quality of education in the region.
"It's just wonderful; public education is a wonderful thing and knowing that there's so many teachers out there the community respects is great."
State winners will be announced at the end of October, and national winners will be announced early next year.
National awards are given in four categories: learning and development; innovation; community engagement and languages other than English.
Winners will receive grants for their pet projects and one teacher gets the opportunity to attend a space camp in the US.
Illawarra teachers named as finalists for the 2013 National Excellence in Teaching Awards for Inspirational Educators:
• Jennifer Dowling, Helensburgh Public School
• Megan Sida, Helensburgh Public School
• Joanne Treffone, St Michael’s Primary School, Thirroul
• Donna Robertson, Bulli Public School
• Pamela Grosse, Corrimal Public School
• Enrique Almeida, Holy Spirit College, Bellambi
• Amanda Giles, Shell Cove Public School
• Lisa Connelly, Hayes Park Public School
• Marion Yates, Hayes Park Public School