Meet the National History Teacher of the Year Finalists

Congratulations to the ten finalists for 2017 National History Teacher of the Year!

These educators were chosen from the 52 exceptional 2017 State History Teachers of the Year for their innovative methods of bringing history to life for their students through the use of historic documents and artifacts, field trips, demonstrations, and hands-on projects. The National History Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in October, will receive a $10,000 prize and a special ceremony in New York City, where they will be presented the National History Teacher of the Year Award by Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.

Learn more about these ten talented educators:

Nicole Bishop, South Carolina 
Nicole Bishop teaches first grade at Irmo Elementary School in Irmo, South Carolina. Her teaching philosophy is, "I do not just teach American history; I teach young citizens and junior American historians." Her students examine the lives of inspirational Americans who have shown "grit," such as Frederick Douglass and Mary McLeod Bethune, as a way to illustrate the American ideals of perseverance and striving for the rights and liberty of others. 



John-David Bowman, Arizona 
John-David Bowman teaches American history and government at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona, where he has been since 2007. He has given more than 60 speeches on leadership, education, policy, and civic engagement throughout Arizona, and presented at Arizona Social Studies conferences. He injects his lessons with interactive activities to engage his students, such as holding Civil War battle reenactments on the school football field. 



John Burkowski, Florida 
John Burkowski teaches American history and Advanced Placement American history, government, and economics at the Academy for Advanced Academics in Miami, Florida. John’s goals in the classroom are to foster not only an understanding of history but also an appreciation of the subject among his students, many of whom are taking advanced, college-level classes. To accomplish this, his teaching philosophy is to "keep it simple," and he devotes a majority of his classroom time to student collaboration and discussion.



W. Blake Busbin, Alabama
Blake Busbin teaches Advanced Placement US History at Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama, where he has taught US history and government and politics since 2007. Blake holds a PhD in Social Studies Education from Auburn University. From 2014 to 2017, Blake and his students embarked on the Auburn High School Veterans Project, an ambitious project that gave students the opportunity to learn military history through interviews with local veterans, and preserve their first-hand accounts for future generations in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. He hopes to begin a similar project to explore the local Civil Rights Movement.  


Kevin Dua, Massachusetts
Kevin Dua teaches at Somerville High School in Somerville, Massachusetts. In his classroom, Kevin works to promote civic engagement as well as foster discussion and understanding among his students. Outside the classroom, he has organized academic initiatives that include Reclaiming Blackfaces, a student project to create a documentary about the mistaken photographic identities of Frederick Douglass, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner, and The Matter Speaks Series, a program to engage educators and students in discussions on gender, sexual orientation, race, politics, and culture.


Georgette Hackman, Pennsylvania
Georgette teaches 7th grade at Cocalico Middle School in Cocalico, Pennsylvania, with a focus on early American history, the American Revolution, and the Constitution. She holds an MA in Education from Pennsylvania State University and an MA in American History and Government from Ashland University. Georgette has participated in numerous teacher seminars at Ford’s Theatre, Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which has helped inspire her to write immersive, hands-on lessons for her students.



Randy Martin, New Mexico
Randy Martin teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies and history at Desert Ridge Middle School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he has taught since 2007. His lessons revolve around the examination of historical artifacts, diary entries, documents, and music as a way to teach critical analysis skills and foster independent thinking, which he hopes will allow his students to distinguish false information from reality. 


Jason Steinagle, New York 
Jason Steinagle teaches 7th grade at Hamburg Middle School in Hamburg, New York, where he has taught both American and world history for over 20 years. He has organized a vast array of historical and civic programs for his middle school students, including holding electronic field trips to Colonial Williamsburg, giving students the opportunity to meet with new American citizens in a Naturalization Ceremony, connecting students with state senators to propose new legislation, inviting Seneca Nation Dancers and African drummers to his class, and more. 


Renny Taylor, North Carolina
Renny Taylor teaches US history, world history, and contemporary law at Nash Central High School in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where he has taught since 2009. This year, Renny took his students on a "Civil War to Civil Rights" field trip, where they traced the arduous path to emancipation and civil rights through stops at historical sites such as Vicksburg National Military Park, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Lorraine Hotel. He hopes to inspire his students to be lifelong learners of history who can apply what they have learned to situations outside the classroom.


Sara Ziemnik, Ohio 
Sara Ziemnik teaches US history at Rocky River High School in Rocky River, Ohio. In addition to teaching history, over her 17 years at Rocky River, she has taught subjects as varied as Western civilization, geopolitics, and psychology. Sara enroucages her students to take positions of leadership and examine opposing views, and stresses the power of the individual to create positive change in the world. She has collaborated with the Cleveland State Department of Digital Humanities to create a Cleveland Historical App, through which her students follow Cleveland’s history as a microcosm of the eras and trends in American history.