Any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible for consideration. American history may be taught as an individual subject or through social studies, reading, language arts, and other subjects.
- The nominated teacher must have at least three years of classroom teaching experience.
- Nominees must be planning to teach for at least one year following the award year.
- Past state and national winners are not eligible.
- Self-nominations are not accepted.
Elementary school teachers (grades K–6) and middle and high school teachers (grades 7–12) are honored in separate categories in alternate years. The 2015 award will honor elementary school teachers (K–6). The upcoming 2016 award will honor middle and high school teachers (7–12) and the 2017 award will honor elementary school teachers (K–6). Teachers can be nominated for either award throughout the year.
What candidates should demonstrate
The committee will evaluate candidates on the following factors:
- A demonstrated commitment to teaching American history (including state and local history)
- Evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom
- Effective use of documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary resources to engage students with American history
All teachers must be nominated on the Gilder Lehrman website, which accepts nominations for any K–12 teacher throughout the year. Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, principal, or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work. A teacher must be nominated by February 15 to be considered for the current year’s award. All nominees will be notified with full instructions for submitting supporting materials to complete their nominations. To nominate a teacher, please click here.
Nominees will submit the following:
- A current resume/curriculum vitae
- One letter of support from a supervisor, colleague, or other education professional familiar with the nominee’s work
- A one-page statement of the nominee’s philosophy of teaching and how it relates specifically to his or her instruction of American history
- A sample lesson plan that can be completed in one to two class sessions, demonstrating the use of primary sources (no more than five pages)
- A sample extended student project, demonstrating the use of primary documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other resources (no more than fifteen pages)
All supporting materials for the current year’s award must be submitted by March 15. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.
Announcement of State History Teachers of the Year (May)
All completed supporting materials are reviewed by state committees of education professionals who select a state winner. All nominees will be notified of the results by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in May. State History Teachers of the Year receive a prize package including a certificate of recognition, a $1,000 award, a collection of classroom resources to be presented in their name to the school library, and an invitation to participate in a Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar. Each winner’s school will become a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School. Winners are honored in a ceremony in their state.
Announcement of the National History Teacher of the Year (Fall)
All state winners are finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award. A panel of former national winners, renowned historians, and teachers reviews all state winner materials and selects the National History Teacher of the Year. The winner is announced in the early fall and receives a $10,000 award and a trip to the national award ceremony; two of the winner’s students are also invited to the ceremony.