The Gilder Lehrman Institute recently announced the 2022 State History Teachers of the Year from elementary, middle, and high schools across the nation, including Geoffrey Wingard of Bangor High School who was named Maine’s 2022 State History Teacher of the Year.
Wingard has been teaching in public schools for 21 years – all of which have been at Bangor High School where he currently serves as the History Department Head. “Finding my role as a high school teacher was a gift,” said Wingard. “I really enjoy the content that I get to teach, and I love helping my students become better citizens and scholars.”
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 K–12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories. In fall 2022, ten finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year will be announced.
“I think the thing I most enjoy about teaching history, and really teaching in general, is the collaboration I’m able to engage in with both colleagues and students,” said Wingard. “A story I use to illustrate the power of this approach has to do with a student who was enrolled as a ninth grader in my required World Geography class. He also took other social studies classes when he was not enrolled with me. I saw him again as a tenth grader in US History and again as a Senior in my AP Human Geography course. At the end of his high school career, he shared with me that the reason he had taken so many classes from our department was that every teacher he met, whether he was enrolled in their class or not, was willing to help him learn. He had found a community that supported him. I’m grateful to have been part of that community.”
Wingard shared that while the recognition as a Gilder Lehrman HTOY is a wonderful honor, it has also made him a more self-reflective and thorough teacher. Going through the process of articulating teaching philosophy and sharing lesson and unit plans has made him a better teacher and has created a space to become more thoughtful and a more intentional teacher of history.
“We are teaching in a particularly challenging time, a time when many of our foundational beliefs about teaching as a profession and beliefs about our history are being challenged. It is a powerful gift to be able to guide young people in their development as critical thinkers at this time and I hope teachers have a sense of pride and commitment regarding their role in shaping the next generation,” added Wingard.
In order to be considered for the History Teacher of the Year award, eligible teachers must first be nominated by a colleague, parent, or student. After receiving a nomination, teachers must submit a resume, teaching materials, and a letter of recommendation to be considered for the state award. History Teacher of the Year winners are selected by a committee of educators and education professionals in their state. For more information on the award process, visit the Gilder Lehrman Institute website.