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Each year, one outstanding educator will represent Illinois in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History National History Teacher of the Year Program. The program is open to any Illinois full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) either as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts.

Nominees MUST:

  • Have at least three years of classroom teaching experience.
  • Be planning to teach for at least one year following the award year.

Nominees should demonstrate:

  • A 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.

Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, or principal or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work. Self-nominations are not accepted. 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.

Submit a Nomination

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.

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.​​​​​​​​​​

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