A Quebec City teacher is on the shortlist of finalists vying for a prestigious global teaching prize that comes with a US$1 million reward.

Yvan Girouard, a teacher at Ecole Secondaire les Etchemins in Quebec City, is among the top 50 finalists in the running for the Global Teacher Prize awarded by the Varkey Foundation, a non-profit organization in the U.K.

Girouard has been teaching for 22 years and has spent nearly half of his career at Les Etchemins teaching science. His students say that, when they’re being taught by Girouard, it doesn’t feel like they’re in a classroom, but instead feels like a museum.

After a Quebec science curriculum change expanded the coursework in 2009, Girouard seized the opportunity to transform his classroom. Now, his students are surrounded by taxidermy animals, posters, fish tanks and a giant dinosaur constructed from tin-can tops over the course of three years.

“I can put anything I want in my classroom,” Girouard told CTV Montreal. “It’s the new curriculum.”

In 2015, Girouard received the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for his incorporation of technology into teaching and for the way he inspires his students by offering them different types of innovative projects.

His students say they’re thrilled that Girouard is finally being recognized for his hard work and were quick to explain some of the reasons why he deserves the award.

“He’s very present and he’s always there for us, like at lunch time,” said Laurianne Tremblay. “He’s always in the class and the class is always open if we want to work or ask questions.”

The prize is intended to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution and to shine light on the important role that teachers play in society. Over 20,000 nominations and applications were submitted from 179 countries.

The top ten finalists will be flown to Dubai for the Global Education and Skills Forum in March where the winner will receive a grand prize of US$1 million.

According to Girouard, if he wins the grand prize, he’d prefer to split the winnings with all ten finalists.

“I think it will be better if each teacher in the top 10 has $100,000 to bring back to their country,” said Girouard. “They’ll be able to do beautiful work.”

With his portion of the money, Girouard said he’d like to start a large mini-greenhouse project in 45 primary schools as an introduction to entrepreneurship and sustainable science.

Girouard is nominated along with two other Canadians in the top 50, Armand Doucet at Riverview High School in New Brunswick and Maggie MacDonnell at Ikusik School in Salluit, Quebec.

With a report from CTV Montreal's Maya Johnson