A longtime teacher from midcoast Maine has been named one of 10 finalists for a prestigious international prize.

Nancie Atwell, who founded the Center for Teaching and Learning, a private elementary and middle school in Edgecomb, will travel to Dubai next month to learn whether she will take home the Global Teacher Prize – and its $1 million award.

The winner will be announced March 15.

The Global Teacher Prize was created last spring by the Varkey GEMS Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Global Education Management Systems, which operates private K-12 schools around the world. The foundation focuses on teacher training programs and education advocacy, as well as building schools around the world. Former President Bill Clinton serves as its honorary chairman.

More than 5,000 people were nominated for the award and the list was whittled to 50 last month, including 16 teachers from the U.S.

In January, when Atwell learned she had been named one of the 50, she said she knew only that a former student had nominated her for the award, but didn’t know who it was.

Atwell, who has been teaching in Maine since 1975, has thousands of former students from stints as an English teacher at public schools in Lincoln County and later at the school she opened in 1990.

In 1987, she wrote a teaching manual called “In the Middle” that has sold more than 500,000 copies and made her a sought-after educational speaker all over the world. In 1991, she won the Modern Library Association’s MLA Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize for the manual, now in its third edition. She has nine books on teaching to her credit.

Atwell founded the Center for Teaching and Learning as a demonstration school, a place where students could learn in a private setting but also a place where teachers from elsewhere could visit and observe alternative methods of education.

Each year, the school hosts 40 to 50 classroom teachers from all over the world for weeklong seminars in which they observe the school’s 10 full- and part-time teachers in a classroom setting.

The school is traditional in some ways but unique in others, with a big focus on reading. Students at the school read an average of 40 books each year, most of them books they choose themselves.

Atwell, 63, has been a voracious reader since she was bedridden with rheumatic fever as a child.

A judging committee will award the Global Teacher Prize to “one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession,” according to the Varkey GEMS Foundation website. The award is given to a teacher who is judged on “how they open up their pupils’ minds, how much they contribute to the community, and how much they encourage others to become teachers.”

Atwell said last month that if she’s fortunate enough to win, she said she’ll give every penny of the $1 million award to the school.