AN ENGLISH teacher at Mary MacKillop College in Sydney's south-west has been named Australia's Favourite Teacher.
Mark O'Connor was nominated for the competition by Year 12 student Rebecca Knox for his dedication and commitment to helping his students achieve their best.
Mr O'Connor has also inspired Rebecca to become a teacher when she finishes school.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who launched the competition in October, and Education Minister Peter Garrett were at Mary MacKillop yesterday to congratulate Mr O'Connor and meet with the school's students, staff and parents.
Ms Gillard also took part in a Q&A session with students.
She said the favourite teacher campaign was aimed at starting a national conversation about the importance of teachers.
Over six weeks around 20,000 people engaged in the campaign using social media, either by commenting, liking or sharing, and more than 130,000 people were reached on Facebook.
There were 125 entries from current students, to people who left school 40 years ago and still remember a special teacher.
Mr O'Connor comes from a family of teachers and said winning the title of favourite teacher was a "humbling experience".
"My brother and my sister-in-law are also both teachers," Mr O'Connor said.
"My brother would argue that I'm not even the best teacher in the family, and he's probably right - his wife is a lot better than him."