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 as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts.

  • 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.

The award recognizes exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers. Eligible generalist and specialist teachers in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US territories are encouraged to apply.

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 sources to engage students with American history

Consideration of these factors will be based on the grade level taught in order to accommodate the teaching requirements of both generalist and specialist teachers.

Selection Process

State winners, in addition to a national winner, will be chosen from both generalist and specialist applicants, using a rubric that fairly judges their individual strengths. The standards for the “excellent” category of this rubric can be found here. We are interested in honoring a wide range of history teachers from different backgrounds who work in different settings. We would encourage you to submit your materials, even if you think you might not meet every one of the criteria described.


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, or principal or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work. A teacher must be nominated by April 30 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.

Supporting Materials

Nominees will submit the following:

  • A current resume/curriculum vitae
  • A sample lesson plan, student project, or unit that demonstrates the use of primary sources (up to 15 pages)
  • One letter of support from a supervisor or administrator. This can be a former or current supervisor. Supervisors can include but are not limited to department chairs, principals, or assistant principals. 

All supporting materials for this year’s award must be submitted by May 31. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Announcement of State History Teachers of the Year (July)

All completed supporting materials are reviewed by state committees of elementary and secondary education professionals who select a state winner. All nominees will be notified of the results by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in July. State History Teachers of the Year receive a prize package including a certificate of recognition, a $1,000 award, and a collection of classroom resources. 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 master teachers reviews all state winners’ 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.