MCI Teacher Ethan Brownell Named 2023 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Ethan Brownell

Ethan Brownell, at teacher at the Maine Central Institute (MCI), has been named the 2023 Maine 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.

Brownell has been teaching for 12 years – 10 of which have been at MCI where he currently teaches AP US History, AP US Government and Politics, Model UN, Sociology, and 11th grade American History & Government. Additionally, he advises the Model UN and Youth & Government and co-advises the tabletop gaming club.

Inaugurated in 2004 and now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, 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 addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Brownell receives a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials, recognition at a local ceremony in their honor, and becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year Award. In fall 2023, ten finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year will be announced.

Brownell believes that teaching social studies “helps us examine the human experience in all its beauty and ugliness. History, geography, and civics help us to understand the world we live in and those we share it with. We learn critical skills to help us contextualize events and communicate with each other in a hyper-connected world. Also, it’s just fun to study the past and it’s stories. The more we know about human experience, the more interesting we, the world, and each other will be – it’s a beautiful feedback loop.”

“I love to talk about things that I care and that my students care about,” Brownell shared. “I have the privilege to teach a wonderfully diverse set of students, and it’s amazing to see them sharing their own experiences across time and space. Model UN and Youth & Government are amazing vehicles for this: seeing my students engage with others from around the state on vital issues past, present, and future makes me hopeful.”

Brownell is honored to be recognized through this award. “My first experience with the Gilder Lehrman Institute was at their Reconstruction summer institute with Eric Foner and Martha S. Jones. It was an amazing week doing one of my favorite things: being a student and learning in a collaborative atmosphere. It means a lot to be recognized by an organization that helped me so much in my own practice.”

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.