There are many prestigious awards for hardworking and valued Washington state educators and their students to receive deserved recognition. Award opportunities are listed in the Awards section. By identifying and sharing information about some of the ways that other educators have enriched the lives of their students by instilling a respect for the past, it is possible to provide ideas and models for other educational professionals, and these are featured in the Inspiring Peers section. HistoryLink.org encourages readers to send descriptions of inspiring peers and projects from your school district to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion in this section.
AKCHO Heritage Education Award:This award is given each year by the Association of King County Historical Organizations to a King County teacher or an organization who has promoted King County heritage by the innovative incorporation of local history into the curriculum and/or through a project that involves students with the heritage community. Nominations are due in February and awards are presented in
Golden Apple Awards: The KCTS9 Golden Apple Awards honor successful teaching models and programs among Washington state educators. There are thousands of educators, volunteers, community organizations, and businesses working to make Washington State schools exciting places to learn. Is there a teacher that has had a powerful impact on your children? An innovative educational program that serves the students of your community? If you know of a person or program making a difference, consider nominating them for a KCTS9 Golden Apple Award. Teachers, volunteers, administrators, staff, community organizations and local businesses are all eligible for nominations. The KCTS9 Golden Apple Awards are made possible through funding from Pemco Insurance.
Governor's Award for Excellence in Teaching History:
Presented to an outstanding certified teacher of Pacific Northwest history in an accredited K-12 school in Washington or to a nonprofit organization. The awards committee welcomes nominations of persons who demonstrate effective teaching by any measure of excellence. This may include, but is not limited to the use and development and an innovative curriculum, consistent effectiveness in utilizing Pacific Northwest history in either the classroom or the community over an extended period of time, the advancement of Pacific Northwest history as a field of academic inquiry, a lasting impact on students, the use or development of innovative technology, and the encouragement of Pacific Northwest themes in History Day presentations. The award includes $750 and a Gold Star of recognition. http://washingtonhistory.org/wshs/awards.aspx
History Teacher of the Year: The national History Teacher of the Year award honors outstanding elementary and secondary American history teachers from around the country. Washington selects one state finalist every year to forward to the national program administered by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The History Teacher of the Year receives a $1,000 award, an invitation to the annual Governor’s Reception for Exceptional Educators, and an opportunity to compete for the national award. The state finalist's school receives an archive of primary historical materials named in honor of the teacher.
The History Channel Outstanding History Educator Award:This award is given annually to an educator who has made an exceptional contribution to history education through the National History Day program. The award recipient receives $5,000 and a special plaque that is presented at the NHD national contest in June.
Leadership in History Awards: American Association for State and Local history initiated the awards program in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout North America. AASLH presents the Leadership in History Awards to honor significant achievement in the field of local history, and bring public recognition to small and large organizations, institutions, and programs that contribute to this arena. By publicly recognizing excellent achievements, the Association strives to inspire others.
Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) Educator of the Year Award:Each fall the Museum of History & Industry recognizes an outstanding teacher at their annual HistoryMakers fundraising gala in November. Proceeds from the fundraiser support the museum’s education program. The education staff creates a list of all the teachers who have interacted with MOHAI during the past year, on site, in classrooms, etc. Letters are sent to all of the appropriate principals asking for nominations and a board committee selects the Educator of the Year from a pool of finalists. Award is $1,000 and a commemorative plaque. email@example.com
PBS Teacher of Merit Award: This award is presented annually to an educator who uses National History Day program as part of the curriculum. The award is a $5,000 stipend and plaque of recognition. There are eight finalists selected for this award and recognized at the NHD national contest welcome ceremony. Finalists for this award receive a PBS VIDEO library for their school. The winner is announced at the NHD national contest awards ceremony.
Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding National History Day (NHD) teachers. Two state winners, one at both the junior level and senior level, will be selected from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, International Schools-Asia, and the U.S. territories. The winners of the national awards will be selected from among the state awardees. Each state winner will be awarded $500 and the national winners will receive $10,000. http://www.nhd.org/ClassroomConnection.htm.
Preserve American History Teacher of the Year Award: This award honors outstanding elementary and secondary American history teachers from around the country, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and U.S. Territories. Washington selects one state finalist every year to forward to the national program, which is administered by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The History Teacher of the Year alternates between elementary and secondary each year. The winner receives a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 award from the Gilder Lehrman Institute, an invitation to the annual Governor’s Reception for Exceptional Educators, and an opportunity to compete for the national award (four national finalists travel to Washington, D.C.). In addition an archive of primary historical materials named in honor of the teacher will be given to the state finalist’s school.
Richard Farrell Teacher of Merit Award: This award is presented annually to an educator who uses the National History Day program as part of the curriculum. The award is a $1,000 stipend and plaque of recognition. There are eight finalists selected for this award and recognized at the NHD national contest welcome ceremony. Finalists for this award receive a PBS VIDEODATABASE library for their school. The winner is announced at the NHD national contest awards ceremony.
University of Washington Pressly Prize: The Pressly Prize, named for University of Washington emeritus professor of History Thomas Pressly and his wife, Cameron, recognizes outstanding teaching at the secondary level in the state of Washington. The department relies entirely on nominations from students to bring worthy candidates to our attention. Nominations are accepted from any current University of Washington undergraduate or graduate student.
Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit Award and Walt Crowley Teacher Mentor Award: These awards are given to outstanding History Day teachers who work with students in the National History Day program and demonstrate innovative teaching techniques in and out of the classroom. The winning teachers will receive airline tickets to attend that year’s National History Day Contest in Washington D.C. and to compete with other state winners for the national PBS Teacher of Merit Award. As of 2010, the awards have been re-named to honor HistoryLink.org co-founder Walt Crowley.
Youth Awards: Awards for students involved in Social Studies or history-related projects are listed below. It is also very important to acknowledge and honor deserving students.
Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) Youth Awardis presented to a King County student (K-12) or students who have made an outstanding contribution to the heritage community with service or through a project that has benefited the community at large. Nominations for this annual award are due in February and awards are presented in April.
HistoryLink.org Award for History Day Essay on Washington State History: HistoryLink.org presents an annual monetary award at both the North Puget Sound Regional and State History Day Awards Ceremony to a student who has written an exemplary historical paper concerning Washington state history. The student with the winning historical paper will receive a monetary award and will be invited to HistoryLink.org’s annual HistoryLunch as a special guest. The winning historical paper will be posted on HistoryLink.org.’s website along with a brief biography of the student author. firstname.lastname@example.org
Shoreline Historical Museum Award for History Day Student: For more information contact: email@example.com
University of Washington History awards for students: The University of Washington has several awards for University of Washington history students only.
- Tricia Billes, Sequim Middle School, Sequim School District
- Alan Bruns, Kellogg Middle School, Shoreline School District
- Matt Norling, West Valley Middle School, Yakima School District
- Sabrina Shaw,Stanwood High School, Stanwood-Camano School District
- Luke Thomas, Mt. Spokane high School, Mead School District
- Gary Thomsen, Chief Sealth High School, Seattle School District
- Barbara Williams, Eastside Heritage Center Education Manager 2000-2007
- Dori Wuepper, Canyon Park Junior High School, Northshore School District
Tricia Billes, Sequim Middle School, Sequim School District
Tricia Billes of Sequim Middle School was named the 2010 Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit. This award is presented annually to an outstanding History Day teacher who works with students in the National History Day program and demonstrates innovative teaching techniques in and out of the classroom.
In the ten years since Tricia introduced History Day into Sequim schools, more than 50 Sequim students have advanced to the national contest. Under her direction, five Sequim projects have won medals at nationals, and one received the Civil War History Prize. At the state contest, the Outstanding School Award is given to the school with the most finalists on a ranked bases - Sequim Middle School has won that distinction four out of the last six years. Tricia is the co-coordinator of the regional History Day contest in her area and serves on the state History Day Advisory Committee, a volunteer group that helps to guide the state program. She was also named as the winner of the 2010 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching History.
Washington state History Day Coordinator Lauren Danner noted “Tricia is not in the business of creating historians; rather, she allows the power of history to inspire informed citizens. It takes a teacher of extraordinary talent to accomplish that goal.”
Alan Bruns, Kellogg Middle School, Shoreline School District
Alan Bruns, a social studies teacher at Kellogg Middle School in Shoreline, was recognized with the 2nd Annual MOHAI Educator of the Year Award.
“Education is one of the most important aspects of the museum’s mission,” said MOHAI board member Andrew Bor, chair of History Makers. “We are pleased to recognize a teacher who has truly inspired students, brought history alive, and shown them the vital connections between the past and what is happening today.”
Bruns began his teaching career at Kellogg in 1998. His own interest in the profession began when he was in middle school where a string of outstanding teachers inspired him. His love of history was fostered by his parents, who, themselves, are history buffs.
Bruns’s principal, Lori Longo, characterized his classroom as “alive with learning.” He finds that role playing helps his students connect with the past. Their favorite period? The Middle Ages. Bruns cites “the intrigue of armor, weaponry, castles and battle” and the many fantasies located in that era as having a strong pull on students. He also brings in speakers, stating that students are fascinated by accounts of firsthand experience.
What Bruns is most proud of is a Human Rights Unit that he created. “I find a great deal of optimism among teens,” Bruns commented, “and sympathy for those who have had a tougher time. They believe that things can change.” (from MOHAI press release – 10/27/08)
Matt Norling, West Valley Middle School, Yakima School District
Matt Norling of Yakima’s West Valley Junior High School was selected to receive the 2010 Walt Crowley Teacher Mentor Award. This award is presented to a teacher with at least three years of History Day experience but who has never had the opportunity to attend the National Competition. The winner is selected by the History Day Advisory Committee from applications submitted by those who wish to attend National History Day for professional growth and development.
Matt has been a teacher for 20 years and introduced History Day at West Valley Jr. High six years ago. The number of students participating in History Day has grown from five in the first year to 157 last year – with 64 qualifying for State Competition.
Matt is looking forward to attending National History Day so that he can share his experiences and new ideas with his students and his professional colleagues at West Valley Jr. High. In his application, Matt noted “The best teachers share their experiences with their students in class, and that is what I plan to do. The skills learned from the NHD project can apply to all students, whether participating in the contest or not. The more experience and enthusiasm that I exude to my students, the better they learn to love history.”
Sabrina Shaw, Stanwood High School, Stanwood-Camano School District
History Day’s 2011 Walt Crowley Teacher of Merit Award was presented to Sabrina Shaw of Stanwood High School. In the past five years, Sabrina Shaw of Stanwood High School. In the past five years, Sabrina has sent more than 50 students to the National History Day contest -- an extraordinary record. According to a letter of support for Sabrina’s nomination, “Sabrina is committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning history. Her work with History Day has been a proven success by the number of students she has participating and their success in regional, state, and national competitions. Many of her students have continued on to higher education in the area of history due to the influence of Sabrina and her teaching and mentoring.”
According to Sabrina’s personal philosophy of teaching, “This idea -- that one must experience the past to understand the present -- is what drives my teaching philosophy and my use of National History Day with students. However, it is my experiences with individual students (and their projects) that make me understand that the true power of the NHD program is the ability to help students write their own history.”
Luke Thomas, Mt. Spokane High School, Mead School District
History Day’s 2011 Walt Crowley Teacher-Mentor Award was presented to Luke Thomas of Mt. Spokane High School in Mead, Washington. Since he was introduced to the National History Day program 11 years ago, Luke has been an ardent advocate of History Day as a curricular enhancement for his social studies classes in schools across Eastern and Central Washington. According to his letter of application, he identified that “many students use their understanding of the historical research process from my class (using History Day) as a launching point for a life-long passion for historical research and analysis.” He views the opportunity to attend the National History Day Contest in Washington D.C. as “a roadmap for empowering students to develop skills by which to enhance their understanding and love of history, thereby insuring the development of new generations of thoughtful and thorough historians.”
Gary Thomsen, Chief Sealth High School, Seattle School District
Gary Thomsen has spent over a decade affecting the lives of Seattle’s youth, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. He has taught an Events Marketing and Video Production class at Seattle's Chief Sealth High School for over a decade. In this very unique learning experience, his students plan one large event of their choosing per year. They conduct research, develop marketing plans, design logos, create budgets, write business letters and press releases, design websites and produce the event, and in doing so learn real-world skills and earn real-world income.
One of Thomsen’s signature projects is The Diaries Project, a series of living history documentaries on Seattle and King County neighborhoods. To date, Thomsen’s classes have produced 12 historical documentaries, including The Diaries of Lake Union, West Seattle, Delridge, Westwood, the Duwamish, White Center, South Park, Bremerton, Chelan and a three-part series on High Point. These powerful films not only serve to record the history of the neighborhoods they explore, but also have been found to improve the relationship between the neighborhood and participating schools. Two of the Diaries videos earned prestigious Youth Emmy awards, and the Diaries of High Point was awarded the AKCHO Youth Award in 2004. Information regarding The Diaries Project can be found in the Inspiring Projects section in the Heritage Education Resources section. Several of the Diaries projects were funded by 4Culture’s Heritage Cultural Education Program (http:///www.4culture.org/heritage/funding/index.html
In addition to the historical Diaries videos, Thomsen’s students have produced an historical book on the South Park community, Seattle's South Park (Images of America: Washington).
The most recent project taken on by Thomsen’s students is called Project Earth Care, a unique intergenerational environmental project that features an historical component, and has Thomsen’s students mentoring elementary and middle school students as part of the project. The initial project was the Pelly Place Ravine Revital-ization, which featured Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Wangari Maathai joining the students for a ceremonial tree planting celebration. The second project, the Genesee Meadow revitalization, was awarded the AKCHO Youth Award in April 2009.
But, perhaps his most ambitious project was a three-year research project on black ballplayers who lived in Seattle / King County and either played in the Negro Leagues or toured with one of the famous black barnstorming teams. During the course of the project Thomsen’s students interviewed over 350 former players, or relatives, and collected more historical documentation on black barnstorming players than either the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Negro Leagues Museum had, combined. All research was subsequently turned over to the Negro Leagues Museum. As a culminating event, Thomsen’s students brought the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Exhibit to Chief Sealth High School for a two week showing. Over 10,000 people visited the famed exhibit during its stay, and the legendary Buck O’Neil was featured as the opening night speaker.
Students learn invaluable, transferable skills in Thomsen’s class, including communication, time management, research, grant writing, interviewing, film making and editing techniques. In the process, they become experts on the community they are documenting. At the completion of each project, the students present their findings to community groups, and to museums and historical societies throughout Seattle and King County. Thomsen’s students have interviewed over 3,400 residents and his students have located over 4,000 pieces of historical documentation (photographs, land use documents etc) for use in the video projects alone. In the process, his students have collaborated with over 500 community members in the production of the historical videos and book. Perhaps best of all, they help break down stereotypes through their intergenerational endeavors.
Thomsen has been honored by the Thomas Wales Foundation for his work with students and with the prestigious Service to Community Award from the University of Puget Sound. Cited for his "tireless work in the local community," Thomsen is the first teacher to be so recognized. In each, the award selection committees "looked for individuals whose commitment, skill, and dedication have had a significant impact in his or her community. Through voluntary service in artistic, historical, recreational, educational, human service or other worthy organizations, the recipients of this award seek to better the quality of life around them.” He received the AKCHO Heritage Education Award in April 2009 for his innovative incorporation of local history into the curriculum and/or through a project that involves students with the heritage community.
Barbara Williams, Eastside Heritage Center Education Manager 2000-2007
Barbara Williams was the Education Coordinator at Marymoor Museum of Eastside History and at the Eastside Heritage Center until February 2008 when she retired from the organization after 13 years of heading up the Education Department.
Barbara continues to work at the Bellevue Botanical Garden as Youth Specialist, managing the Living Lab Program for elementary school students and teachers. She is a premier educator and inspirational teacher.
Her contributions to King County education began at the Pacific Science Center where she supervised the Science Interpreter Program, developed and taught science classes for students, pre-k to 6, conducted teacher in-service programs, supervised and developed programs for the early childhood exhibit area. She also supervised staff and volunteers working in the exhibit areas, networked with other organizations and professionals, and supervised and developed education programs for the Native American exhibit area.
In 1994 this comprehensive experience led Barbara to the Marymoor Museum of Eastside History where she became Education Coordinator, developing and delivering in-house education programs (tours, loan kits, grants and special programs) and worked with volunteers and other community organizations.
Barbara was soon also employed at the White River Valley Museum in Auburn where she applied her gifts to developing museum tours and designing and conducting docent guided tours. As if two part-time jobs were not enough, she began working for the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society. She was program developer and coordinator for the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Living Laboratory school field trip program and developed activities for school students K-5.
Presently, the Eastside Heritage Center doesn’t have a major public facility or museum to provide student educational experiences so Barbara has been instrumental in creating and maintaining the “Treasure Boxes” that bring Eastside history into the classrooms, providing students with hands-on experiences. To facilitate marketing to local school districts, Barbara worked to create an informative brochure detailing Treasure Box contents and themes, field trips and tours etc.
The Eastside Heritage Center co-occupies the Winters House in Bellevue, a National Register of Historic Places site within the Mercer Slough Nature Park. Barbara runs classes and educational nature walks for elementary-age students. She also conducts the annual “Magic Season Fireside Storytelling” event and collaborates with the City of Bellevue to present seven three-hour Saturday “living history” programs at the historic Fraser Cabin located in Kelsey Creek Farm Park. And, believe it or not, this is just a sampling of her professional accomplishments.
Barbara is a teacher’s teacher, she deeply enjoys helping people learn. She is an outstanding person, and that makes her an outstanding staff person. Barbara Williams was presented with the Association of King County Historical Organization's annual Heritage Education Award in 2008.
Dori Wuepper, Canyon Park Junior High School, Northshore School District
Dori Wuepper was awarded the Association of King County Historical Organization’s Heritage Education Award in 2008. Letters of support for Dori’s nomination described her as a dedicated educator, a thoughtful historian, an educational leader, and an ardent History Day promoter, mentor, and coach.
The strength of the HistoryDay Program in Washington is built through the commitment of individual teachers like Dori. Over the past seven years, she singlehandedly developed an outstanding HistoryDay program for students at Canyon Park Junior High School in the Northshore School District. Dori began with one class, and by 2008, the entire 8th grade -- over 250 students -- participate. Her excellent teaching and mentorship resulted in success for her students. Under her guidance, four projects finished among the top 12 in the nation, with two projects achieving gold and silver medals in 2007.
However, no matter how they ultimately finish in the History Day competition, each of Dori’s students develops invaluable research and analysis skills that they can use throughout their academic careers. They also gain an intimate knowledge of and appreciation for history, the work historians do, and the contributions make to our society. In addition to working with source documents in the classroom, Dori takes them on field trips to research institutions such as the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections and the Washington State Archives to get hands-on experience using primary resources. She extends the classroom to her home where she is available by phone and email to her students after school and on weekends. To highlight and validate the dedicated efforts of her students, Dori arranges an Open House where their achievements are presented and recognized by family members, staff members, and fellow students.
Dori has been the District Social Studies Department Chair for three years and the District-In-Service Committee Chair for another three years. In 2005, she earned the impressive National Board Certification in Young Adolescent History/Social Studies in her continuing commitment to improving her own personal craft as a teacher. She improves her personal research skills by participating in the Advanced Nearby Historians Writing Group at the Museum of History & Industry and the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild.
Other recent achievements and honors of Ms. Wuepper include:
- Member of Washington State History Day Advisory Committee
- Featured speaker at Washington State Council for Social Studies Annual Conference.
- Named 2007 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Washington in recognition of her work with students, faculty, and History Day.
- Named the 2007 Washington National History Day Teacher of Merit.
- Awarded the 2008 Association of King County Heritage Education Award
Her friends and colleagues emphasize that even more than all of these accomplishments, Dori is known by her students, fellow teachers, and professional colleagues for her passion for history and her enormous generosity of spirit.