My wife and I call it the magic carpet ride. Very suddenly being thrust into the national spotlight, walking down the street, and people coming and talking to me and saying, "Are you that teacher guy?"
Eddie Woo, maths teacher
Over the past year Eddie's profile has skyrocketed, and now, he's as close to a celebrity as a math teacher could possibly be.
Mark Scott, NSW Education Dept Secretary
There is a certain irony that Eddie now spends less time with his classes than he used to.
Kevin Woo, brother
In the year since Australian Story profiled Eddie Woo, he’s gone from suburban high school maths teacher to award-winning celebrity.
Eddie first came to prominence with “Wootube” – his free YouTube channel that went viral with its fun and easy-to-understand explanations of difficult maths concepts.
Since then, Eddie has been on a one-man mission to make maths, and teaching, cool.
The audience loved Eddie’s back story: born to Malaysian immigrant parents, Eddie didn’t even like maths at school. When he chose teaching as a career, his parents were disappointed he wasn’t going to be a doctor or a lawyer.
Eddie set up “Wootube” to help a sick student who couldn’t attend classes. His maths videos have now had more than twelve million views.
After Eddie featured on Australian Story, the NSW Education Department created a new role for him which sees him travelling around the state giving masterclasses to students and teachers alike.
Late last year, he won New South Wales Local Hero, followed by the Australia’s Local Hero in the Australian of the Year awards. He’s now up for the Global Teacher Prize.
That accolade, championed by Bill Gates, recognises the world’s best teacher, and should Eddie Woo win, he will receive $1.3 million. Eddie is in Dubai with the nine other finalists, awaiting the announcement on Monday morning.
But as this Australian Story shows, Eddie’s spectacular success has come at some cost to his own students and family.