TNCHE - Tennessee Center for History Education

The Gilder Lehrman Institue of American History

Kelly Willingham Named 2015 Tennessee History Teacher of the Year

New York, NY (DATE, 2015): Kelly Willingham, a teacher at Nolan Elementary School in Signal Mountain, TN, has been named the 2015 Tennessee History Teacher of the Year, an award sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Started in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one exceptional K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US Territories.

A “National History Teacher of the Year” will be selected from this list of state winners and honored at a ceremony in New York City. Past presenters at the ceremony include First Lady Laura Bush, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In 1985, Kelly Willingham received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee and completed a master’s degree in instructional leadership from Tennessee Tech University in 2001. Willingham’s passion for history and instructional leadership has been combined in her classroom, and her students have reaped the benefits. She creates a classroom atmosphere where history is directly correlated to students’ lives through undertaking primary source analysis, classroom simulations, comparing historical fiction novels to primary source evidence, and evidence-based interpretations and writing. When students leave her classroom they not only learn valuable information, they become engaged and informed citizens.

Willingham will receive a $1,000 honorarium and the Nolan Elementary School library will receive a core archive of history books and educational materials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. She will also receive an invitation to a 2016 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar, a weeklong program which offers teachers daily discussions with eminent historians, visits to historic sites, and hands-on work with primary sources.

Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, supervisor, or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work. To be considered for the 2016 award, teachers must be nominated by February 1, 2016. For more information, visit


About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a New York–based national nonprofit devoted to the teaching and learning of American history. Gilder Lehrman draws on top scholars, an unparalleled collection of original historical documents, and a national network of Affiliate Schools to create and provide a broad range of innovative resources, help new generations of students learn about American history in a way that is engaging and memorable, and promote critical thinking and excellent writing. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.


Gilder Lehrman
History Teacher of the Year Award
Past Winners