2013 - Jill Szymanski

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Video produced by: HISTORY® (The History Channel) 
HISTORY sent a crew to Wilmington, Delaware, to produce this short tribute to Jill, which aired during the National History Teacher of the Year Award Ceremony on October 21, 2013


Ms. Szymanski's acceptance speech at the award ceremony held in her honor.

Jill Szymanski, a 4th/5th-grade teacher at Red Clay Consolidated School District, Wilmington, Delaware, was presented the 2013 National History Teacher of the Year Award by Kenneth T. Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor in History and the Social Sciences, Columbia University, at a ceremony at the University Club in Midtown, New York, on October 21, 2013. The National History Teacher of the Year annual award, co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY®, and Preserve America, recognizes the country’s best K–12 American history teacher of the year with a $10,000 prize.

Jack Markell, Delaware Governor, in a surprise video message to Ms. Szymanski during the ceremony stated: "Teacher quality is the most important school-related factor in a student’s success. It is educators like Jill who have a special ability to bring out the best in their pupils . . . [She] sets an example that helps her peers improve . . . Thank you Jill, for helping to inspire all of us to ensure that we do everything we can to provide our young people the best possible education."

HISTORY® (The History Channel) also presented a short video during the ceremony which filmed Ms. Szymanski and her students in the classroom. The video commemorated Jill for her excellence in teaching and featured Jill working hands-on with her students. (View the video at the top of the page)

Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation added: "The ACHP congratulates Jill Szymanski on being named the 2013 National History Teacher of the Year. Her passion for bringing the stories of history to life and encouraging her elementary students’ engagement in significant research and study is most commendable. It is history teachers like Jill who inspire students to become historic preservationists as they understand the importance of place and the protection of it to share with future generations."

Jill Szymanski, 2013 National History Teacher of the Year, remarked: "I want . . . [my students] to grow up to be good citizens and active members of our democracy. I want them to know about the freedoms our country was founded on and to understand how hard our citizens are willing to fight to protect those freedoms . . . Having the skills to overcome obstacles and face challenges head on is a skill I hope they take with them when they leave me."

Ms. Szymanski holds a Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Delaware and has taught at Brandywine Springs School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, Wilmington, Delaware, for more than thirteen years. She creates learning environments for her students that encourage them to explore history in inspired ways. Students demonstrate their knowledge through multimedia projects, oral presentations, acting, and painting. They also develop critical thinking skills by researching competing primary source documents and debating differing viewpoints in class. She has previously received the 2012 Brandywine Springs School Teacher of the Year Award and was a Red Clay Consolidated School District Teacher of the Year finalist.

Jill Szymanski, 2013 National History Teacher of the Year, with two of her forme

In conjunction with the award ceremony and an all-expenses paid trip to New York City, Ms. Szymanski and two of her students, and select colleagues and family members also received a private tour of the Gilder Lehrman Collection. Ms. Szymanski’s school received an archive of history books and automatic membership in the Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School Program, an expansive network of more than 3,000 schools across the nation committed to improving history education.

Ms. Szymanski was selected out of a pool of more than 1,000 applicants nationwide and is the 10th honoree of the National History Teacher of the Year Award, started in 2004.