Harris History Teacher Awards

Quality teachers are critical to student success. National History Day (NHD) recognizes their outstanding work and dedication to their students.

The James F. Harris History Teacher of the Year Award, is sponsored by Dr. James F. Harris, past president of the Board of Trustees of National History Day. This award was presented at the 2018 National Contest to two winners, one at both the junior level and senior level. The winners of the national awards were selected from among the affiliate nominees. Each affiliate was able to nominate one teacher in the junior division and senior division. The national winners each received $5,000.

Junior Division Winner 2018
Senior Division Winner 2018
Junior Division Winner 2018

Mr. Jacob Little, a social studies teacher at Lakeview Junior High School in Downers Grove, Illinois was named the 2018 James F. Harris History Teacher of the Year for the junior division.

Each of the 57 National History Day affiliates could nominate one middle and one high school teacher for this award. Little was the nominee from Illinois for the junior division. His students have participated in the National History Day contest for the past seven years. During those seven years Little has worked to increase his students’ appreciation for history by organizing field trips into the city to visit the Chicago Public Library, Chicago History Museum, and the University of Illinois at Chicago Library. He has also mentored several other teachers on using the National History Day Contest in their classrooms.

“Mr. Little’s commitment to history education is admirable,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “He engages students with research based inquiry, teaches them to analyze sources, and inspires them to challenge themselves. He is truly an outstanding National History Day teacher.”

Little was presented with the award at the National History Day Contest awards ceremony at the University of Maryland.

Senior Division Winner 2018

Dr. Deborah Smith Johnston, a history teacher at Concordia International School Shanghai was named the 2018 James F. Harris History Teacher of the Year for the senior division.

Each of the 57 National History Day affiliates could nominate one middle and one high school teacher for this award. Johnston was the nominee from NHD China for the senior division.

Johnston has been participating in the National History Day Contest for 25 years in Massachusetts, Washington, and China. She uses the National History Day Contest to help her students generate a personal connection with history and develop their critical thinking skills. Johnston has been an integral part of NHD China by leading judge training, coordinating trips to historic sites, and last year four of her students won 3rd place at the National Contest.

“Dr. Johnston’s commitment to history education is admirable,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “She encourages students to delve deeper into history and make personal connections while improving their research and critical thinking skills. She is truly an outstanding National History Day teacher.”

Johnston was presented with the award at the National History Day Contest awards ceremony at the University of Maryland.