POPULAR Naracoorte High School art teacher Vanita Hutchinson has been named a finalist in the SA Public Teaching Awards.
Although unsure of what is due to happen next, Ms Hutchinson said she was pleased to be recognised as the Limestone Coast's finalist in the State award.
"It's surreal and bizarre," she said. "People were ringing me up to congratulate me and I didn't even really know what was going on."
Ms Hutchinson has been a teacher for 13 years - 10 at Naracoorte - after realising it would be nearly impossible to get a job in her preferred field of art.
"I was always better at helping other people with their art than my own," Ms Hutchinson said. "So I graduated from arts, turned around and went back and did teaching."
Before Naracoorte she had stints at Hallet Cove and Coober Pedy.
Coober Pedy, a school with 48 different nationalities represented, was a different experience for the trained secondary school teacher, who found herself teaching Reception for her first lesson.
"They're just different (than high school students)," she said. "You have to change your headset when you approach them."
Now back teaching secondary school full-time, Ms Hutchinson has settled into Naracoorte well and loves teaching art here.
She is very involved in the community through the Naracoorte Regional Art Gallery and has helped out with the show and Taste the Limestone Coast Festival.
"For a regional centre it (Naracoorte) has a huge arts focus," she said. "Which is good, art is the only class I went to in high school - I was a bad student.
"But that just makes you a better teacher."
For the public teaching awards Ms Hutchinson had to be nominated and then write an application based on the seven professional standards for teachers.
The finals of the SA Public Teaching awards are at the National Wine Centre of Australia in Adelaide on October 4.