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Justin Mitchell Named 2021 Kentucky History Teacher Of The Year

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY (July 14, 2021): Justin Mitchell, a teacher at Franklin-Simpson Middle School in Franklin, Kentucky, has been named the 2021 Kentucky History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. 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.

In 2021, Gilder Lehrman received a record 8,510 nominations for the History Teacher of the Year Award from parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide. Amidst a very competitive field, Mitchell rose to the top in Kentucky.

Mitchell received his BA in Social Studies and History and later an MA in Education at Western Kentucky University, where he is currently a Doctor of Education candidate. Since 2010 he has taught 8th grade social studies at Franklin-Simpson Middle School where he also serves as the gifted and talented coordinator, an SBDM council member, and sponsor for a variety of student clubs. Mitchell states he loves teaching history because “it is the subject where, as a teacher, I can be creative in how I reach students. I get to be a storyteller, actor, tour guide, archeologist, comedian, and artist all in the course of a week.” Mitchell is aware of the power of history education; his goal as a teacher “is to raise up incredible citizens who actively participate in their community, state and nation.”

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Mitchell’s school will receive a collection of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and will be honored at a ceremony hosted by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, September 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®

Nominations for the 2022 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting The deadline for 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 70,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, and the Council of Independent Colleges.

Justin Mitchell

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