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Tip of the Week – Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year

I think the Gilder Lehrman folks do a great job of pushing the idea that it is possible, and important, to teach American History well. I especially like the work they are doing to support their annual Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year program.

And it’s not just because last year’s state winner from Kansas, Nathan McAlister from Mayetta, went on to win the honor of National History Teacher of the Year. And it has nothing to do with the fact that he won $11,000 and a whole boatload of teaching materials. Or that Nathan, two of his students and their parents got an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to accept the award from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. Or that he got a personal tour of the Supreme Court building and a special meeting with Justice O’Connor.

Or even that Nathan brought me back hand-picked souvenirs from DC and his tour.


I like the History Teacher of the Year program because it gives us a chance to highlight and encourage those people who do a great job of teaching American history. And now I like it even more.

Gilder Lehrman has changed the way that they start the selection process by allowing anyone to nominate teachers for the award. Yeah, I know! Anybody can nominate a great history teacher! Parents, friends, colleagues, supervisors. The retired lady from down the street who volunteers on Tuesday to help make copies. You can all do it. So . . . get on it.

This year, the award focuses on K-6 teachers. (Elementary and secondary teachers alternate years.)


  • A full-time elementary school teacher of grades K-6 who teaches social studies where there is a major focus on American history (including state and local history).
  • At least three years of classroom experience in teaching social studies with a focus on American history.
  • Evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom that addresses literacy and content beyond state standards.
  • Close attention to primary documents, artifacts, historic sites, and other primary materials of history, including oral history.
  • Thoughtful assessment of student achievement and progress.

Nomination Process:

Nominations for the National History Teacher of the Year can be made by a student, parent, colleague, supervisor (including department head, principal, superintendent, curriculum director), or other education professional familiar with the teacher’s work.  State winners receive $1,000 and an archive of books and other resources for their school. Each winner is honored in a ceremony in his or her home state.

To nominate a teacher and learn more about the award, visit or contact the Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year coordinator at or 646-366-9666.

You can also contact your own state coordinator or contact me with questions.

The nomination deadline is February 1 so get on it.

(Be sure to forward this on to tons of people. The more great teachers we find, the better!)

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