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Two U.S. Teachers Among 2016 Finalists for $1 Million Teaching Prize

Ten teachers have been announced as finalists for this year's Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million annual award offered by the Varkey Foundation.

In a video released Wednesday, physicist Stephen Hawking announced all of the finalists for the second annual award, while offering praise for one of his own inspirational teachers.

"We need great teachers to grow great minds, or we will never solve the world's most pressing problems," Hawking said:

This year, two U.S. teachers are among the finalists. Here's the full list:

  • Hanan Al Hroub, Palestine
  • Aqeela Asifi, Pakistan
  • Robin Chaurasiya, India
  • Joe Fatheree, United States
  • Colin Hegarty, United Kingdom
  • Richard Johnson, Australia
  • Ayub Mohamud, Kenya
  • Maarit Rossi, Finland
  • Michael Soskil, United States
  • Kazuya Takahashi, Japan

Criteria for selection include innovation, professional accomplishments, contributions toward raising the status of teaching, instructional quality, community contributions, and attention to teaching global citizenship.

Fatheree, named Illinois Teacher of the Year in 2007, teaches media-production classes at Effingham High School. He also helps manage Education Week Teacher's Teacher-Leader Voices opinion blog, which is authored by past and present state teachers of the year .

Soskil, an elementary school teacher at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School, in Newfoundland, Pa., won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2012.

Founded by businessman Sunny Varkey, the Varkey Foundation focuses on international education. Last year, the first-ever Global Teacher Prize went to well-known language arts educator Nancie Atwell, who runs an independent school in Maine.

After winning that award, Atwell quickly became embroiled in controversy by suggesting in media interviews that students should be wary of seeking a career in the teaching profession.

The fun story of last year's Global Teaching Prize:

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