Behring Teacher Awards

Quality teachers are critical to student success. National History Day (NHD) recognizes their outstanding work and dedication to their students and the NHD program through offering annual teaching awards.

Patricia Behring sponsored the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award, which recognized outstanding NHD teachers. Two winners, one at both the junior level and senior level, were selected from each affiliate. The winners of the national awards were selected from among the affiliate awardees. Each affiliate winner received $500 and the national winners received $10,000.

Senior Division Winner 2016
Junior Division Winner 2016
Behring Teacher Ambassadors
Senior Division Winner 2016

Jenny Zanner Rowe
Chanhassen High School (Minnesota)
NHD Teacher since 1994

Why are you an NHD teacher?
The second year of my career I discovered History Day in a professional development meeting. The next year I incorporated it into my classes and ever since, every high school student that has gone through my classes has done at least one project. History Day gives students the opportunity to celebrate their curiosity in everything that they do. I’m delighted by the results every semester and I learn a great deal vicariously through their projects.

What is your favorite quote about history?
“Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

If you could have dinner with any figure in history, who would it be and why?
I would love to have dinner with Willie Nelson. I can’t think of anyone who’s seen more of this country than he has and I would appreciate the chance to get his perspective on it.

How has NHD affected your students beyond increased knowledge of their chosen topic?
History Day has changed the course of more of my students’ lives than I can count. At the very least, they go on in their academic careers without being intimidated by the most complex libraries that they encounter. Students go on to create documentary work professionally, incorporate historical research into their choreography and art and follow their topics into academic and professional fields.

Once they graduate, what do you want your students to remember about their NHD experience?
I hope that this project inspires my students to work toward a vocation that will value their curiosity and allow them to ask and answer their own questions.
I also hope that they remember how to use JSTOR.

Junior Division Winner 2016

Jonathan Millers
Sierra Vista Middle School (California)
NHD Teacher since 2007

Why are you an NHD Teacher?
I first became interested in teaching from my mother, a teacher of forty two years. Seeing her passion and love inspired me to strive for similar goals. Around 1990, she brought NHD to the Irvine Unified School District. When I became a teacher I knew that I wanted to find a way to incorporate NHD into my curriculum. I first implemented NHD at Sierra Vista as an extracurricular activity. I saw such a growth from my NHD participants compared to their peers and I knew that I needed to expose all of my students to this wonderful program. NHD has become the central project for our GATE classes and is now embedded in the culture of our school

What is your favorite quote about history?
“A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable” – Thomas Jefferson
This quote is displayed on one of my classroom walls and reminds my students to always search for the truth and understand and identify the presence bias.

If you could have dinner with any figure in history, who would it be and why?
I would have loved the opportunity to meet Genghis Khan. I am fascinated by his historic rise from such humble beginnings to become arguably the greatest general in the history of the world. Additionally, there is so little information about him available that it would be fascinating to be able to fill in the historical gaps and truly understand his story.

How has NHD affected your students beyond increased knowledge of their chosen topic?
Participating in NHD causes my students to become such research experts and the competition has enabled them to read informational texts and determine the quality and credibility of those sources. NHD has challenged my students to look for the best evidence and arguments by evaluating author’s purpose, audience and bias. Allowing them to choose their topic drives a personal relationship with their project and motivates them to have deeper involvement and passion.

Once they graduate, what do you want your students to remember about their NHD experience?
I want all my students to remember the difference between NHD and every other project they complete in school. I want them to understand how important research is and that the key to success is in the revisions. I love seeing my students submit work for revisions and then resubmit a new draft the very next day because they are so interested in what they are doing. NHD has the unique ability to inspire twelve and thirteen year olds to love history. I want them to never forget the passion they had for what they were doing in school.

Behring Teacher Ambassadors

The following 21 teachers were selected to be a Behring Teacher Ambassador for National History Day® during the 2016-2017 school year. To be selected recipients must show outstanding creativity, commitment and inspiration in developing students’ interest in history education. Candidates must be excellent classroom teachers who are past winners of the Behring Teacher Award in their state or affiliate program.

The 2016–2017 National History Day theme is Taking a Stand in History. Throughout the school year, Behring Teacher Ambassadors work with students and teachers around the country to help them better understand the theme and to expand National History Day programs in their regions. Behring Teacher Ambassadors attend a training workshop in July and collaborate with their program’s affiliate coordinator to develop an annual strategy to help students discover the power of history.

The following teachers were selected as Behring Teacher Ambassadors:

  • Ross Farmer, Pennsylvania
  • F. Margret Atkinson, Louisiana
  • Scott Johnson, Tennessee
  • Phyllis Santacroce, Wisconsin
  • Don Erickson, Michigan
  • Ashley Coons, North Carolina
  • Keith Harrington, Vermont
  • Deanna McDaniel, Ohio
  • Kristen Lewis, Colorado
  • Sharon Wlodarczyk, Connecticut
  • Nicole Young, Arizona
  • Robert Bindewald, Indiana
  • Kelly Matney, Missouri
  • Yvonne Krowka, North Carolina
  • Melanie Boulet, Louisiana
  • Erin Patchak, Wisconsin
  • Katherine Temple, Michigan
  • Valerie Arendas, Florida
  • Samantha DeCerbo, South Carolina
  • Debbie Hester, Alabama
  • Teresita Davila-Alexander, Florida
Archived List of Affiliate Winners

Download a PDF of the affiliate level Behring Teacher Award winners from 2010-2016.