Michigan Teacher Matthew Vriesman Named 2023 National History Teacher of the Year


NEW YORK, NY (September 28, 2023)—The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is pleased to announce that Matthew Vriesman, a high school history teacher in Kentwood, Michigan, has been named the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year.

Vriesman rose to the top of a highly competitive field—more than 7,000 educators were nominated for the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year Award by parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide.

Now in its twentieth year, the National History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary through high school. The annual award honors one K–12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US territories and names one of the state winners the National History Teacher of the Year.

Matthew Vriesman teaches AP United States History, AP World History, and AP African American Studies and is the Model United Nations director at East Kentwood High School, a public school located in the Grand Rapids suburbs.

For the selection committee, Vriesman’s teaching stood out for his exceptional ability to tell the story of American history through the lens of his community. His efforts include working with the Grand Rapids Museum to tell the story of the Great Migration through the experiences of Black migrants to Grand Rapids and having his students use historical archives and primary source documents to build a historic virtual tour of western Michigan.

Says Vriesman: “It’s a great honor to represent history teachers! This profession comes with great responsibility, and it’s exciting, challenging, humbling, and deeply rewarding.”

Lindsay Kimbrough, assistant principal at East Kentwood, adds: “While Mr. Vriesman’s knowledge of content is superior, he can forge relationships with all students that truly mold their passion for learning and understanding history. His passion for the students and his dedication to making content relevant for all students sets him apart.”

On Tuesday, October 24, Matthew Vriesman will be honored and receive a check for $10,000 at a ceremony held at the Harvard Club in New York City. The presentation will be live streamed at 5 p.m. ET (register here) and include a video created by HISTORY® highlighting Vriesman’s career and accomplishments as well as a special tribute by former First Lady Laura Bush, who helped found the award in 2004. 

Peabody and Emmy Award–winner Deborah Roberts, ABC News 20/20 Co-Host and Senior National Affairs Correspondent, will host the 2023 ceremony. Roberts was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in May and is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Lessons Learned and Cherished: The Teacher Who Changed My Life.

“Now more than ever, we’re indebted to history teachers,” says Gilder Lehrman Institute president James Basker. “Our country depends on their efforts to make students knowledgeable about our past and excited about our future.”

Engaging and inspiring students in American history education has never been more critical. As the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year, Matthew Vriesman will serve as an ambassador for the teaching community and a thought leader on the importance of high-quality American history education for all, particularly students from underserved communities.

Nominations for the 2024 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K−12 teachers for the award at gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 85,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Learn more at gilderlehrman.org.