NHF Establishes ‘Teacher of Distinction’ Award for National History Day Teachers

NHF Establishes ‘Teacher of Distinction’ Award for National History Day Teachers


Inaugurating a new academic award, the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) recognized 26 “Teachers of Distinction” in the 2018 National History Day (NHD) nationwide history competition for middle and high school students that concluded June 14 at the University of Maryland.

The Foundation awards went to teachers whose students developed award-winning or otherwise outstanding projects with a naval or maritime theme consistent with this year’s overall NHD topic, “Conflict and Compromise in History.”

Each year some 600,000 students from middle and high schools from all 50 states and territories, as well as international schools in Asia and Central America, participate in NHD.  Project categories include papers, exhibits, video documentaries, web sites and performances.

Competition begins in individual schools with the top two winners in each category advancing to regional, state, and national levels of competition.  Approximately 3,000 students and several thousand teachers participated in the final competition at the University of Maryland June 10-14.

“The National History Day competition is a wonderful opportunity for young students to develop a lifelong appreciation for history and be awarded for their achievements,” said Admiral William J. Fallon, USN (Ret.), NHF Chairman.  “But we wanted to also recognize the outstanding teachers who inspire and encourage these students.  They’re the real heroes on the frontlines of our education system.”

All Teacher of Distinction awards consisted of certificates, three-year NHF memberships, and access to NHF historical research assistance.  Teachers of award-winning projects – Coskey Prizes and national competition finalists – also received honorariums.

In addition, students whose projects were ranked highly in the Coskey Prize competition received “Student Achievement” certificates, three-year NHF memberships and access to NHF historical research assistance.

The Foundation made its Teacher of Distinction awards to teachers whose student projects with naval/maritime themes achieved success in the following three areas:

Coskey Prizes

Since 1999 the Foundation has awarded $1,000 ‘Coskey Prizes’ to one middle school student and one high school student whose NHD projects best capture an appreciation for naval history.  The prize is named for the late Captain Ken Coskey, a Vietnam War combat pilot and prisoner of war and former Executive Director of the Naval Historical Foundation.

This year’s Coskey Prize winners were Andrew Karafa of Eastern Middle School in Kentwood, MI, for his documentary project, “Temporary Truces: How America’s Handling of Barbary Bullies Molded the U.S. Navy,” and Caroline Mason of  West Henderson High School in Henderson, NC, for her paper project, “The Quasi War: The Undeclared Conflict.”

The NHF Teacher of Distinction went to James Cross of Eastern Middle School and Melissa Waycaster and Katie McCrary, both of West Henderson High School, teachers of the Coskey Prize winning students.

National Competition Winners

The NHF awards also went to teachers whose student projects were ranked first, second, or third in the NHD national competition.  The following five projects were in this category:

  • “A Splash of History: The Conflict and Compromise of the Indus Waters Treaty,” a first place documentary project by Sanjay Kasi of Felix Festa Character Middle School, West Nyack, NY. Teacher:  Paul Clemente.
  • “Great Lakes, Great Legacy?: The Compromise of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” a first place group website project by Azalea Rohr and Sofia Fish of Sanford Middle School in Minneapolis, MN. Teachers: Casey Metcalfe and Jennifer Pilot.
  • “The Oyster Wars of the Chesapeake Bay: How Regulatory Compromise Created Conflict,” a second place paper by Zoe Friedman of Deal Middle School, Washington, DC. Teacher:  Yvette Simpson-Wayne.
  • “Sailing Away from the Turbulent Waters of Vietnam: The Overflowing Waves of Boat People,” a second place documentary by Vy Nguyen of Derby North Middle School, Derby, KS. Teacher:  Amy Steadman.
  • “Where the River Runs Dry: Conflict over Water in the West and the Compromise of the Colorado River Compact,” a third place paper by Emery Jansen of Southern Hills Middle School, Boulder, CO. Teacher:  Zach Crandall.

Other Highly Ranked Projects

Final category for Teacher of Distinction recognition was for student projects that were highly ranked by judges for the Coskey Prize competition.  There were 10 projects in the middle school division and 7 for the high school division, with a total of 17 teacher awards.  Following are the projects, winning students and winning teachers:

Middle School

  • “Nuclear Conflict, Peaceful Compromise,” an exhibit by Devin Corrington and Parker Williams of Tri-County North Middle School of Lewisburg, OH. Teacher:  Debbie Pearson.
  • “Three Strikes and I am NOT Out: The Raye Jean Montague Story,” a group website project by Henry Mitchell, Morgan Davis and Olivia Flowers of Royal Valley Middle School, Mayetta, KS. Teacher:  Brenda Hainey.
  • “The Deliberate Destruction of SMS Cormoran: Preventing Conflict with Compromise,” a website project by Napu Blas of Untalan Middle School, Guam. Teacher:  Valerie Tanayan.
  • “The Thirteen Day Crisis,” an exhibit by Halley Desal of Auten Road Intermediate School, Hillsborough, NJ. Teacher:  Patricia Sellar.
  • “Coming Eye to Eye in the Cuban Missile Crisis,” a website project by Olivia Biggs of American Heritage School of Boca/Delray, Delray Beach, FL. Teacher:  Mindy Greenberg.
  • “The Speech That Saved Democracy,” a performance project by Dhruv Cohen of Deal Middle School, Washington, DC. Teacher:  Caitlin Daniels.
  • “The Cuban Missile Crisis: How Countries Risk War in the Nuclear Age,” a paper by Matthew Ellis of Northside Junior High School, Bothell, WA. Teacher:  William Boniface.
  • “Pirates of South Carolina,” a group performance project by Ben Besser, Clay Lewis, Marshall Carnahan, Max Congdon and Olivia Johnson of Waccamaw Middle School, Pawleys Island, SC. Teacher:  Richard Gehrman.
  • “Newport Maritime and American Freedom,” a documentary by Sydney Van Slyke of Narragansett Pier School, Narragansett, RI. Teacher:  Kevin Holden.
  • “The Tripolitan War: A Fight against Coastal Corsairs,” a documentary by Jenna Hartz of St. Benedict School, Decorah, IA. Teacher:  Patty Lien.

High School

  • “Conflict and Failed Compromise: S. Excursions into Korea in the 19th Century,” a paper by Sam Yoo of John Bapst Memorial High School, Bangor, ME.  Teacher:  Ben Hale.
  • “Home of the Brave?: Challenging Standards for Military Service,” a performance by Kale Michael of Seaman High School, Topeka, KS. Teacher:  Susan Sittenauer.
  • “The S.S. St. Louis: The Refusal of Refugees,” an exhibit by Owen Killy of Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC. Teacher:  Jonathan Kiljik.
  • “To the Ends of the Earth: Robert Scott’s Final Expedition,” a group documentary by Jeffrey Tolentino and Sam Crowley of EL Haynes Public Charter School, Washington, DC. Teacher:  Nathanial Cole.
  • “Conflict at Sea: The Spanish Armada vs. Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs,” a paper by Bridget Sheridan of Caravel Academy of Bear, DE. Teacher:  Staci Garber.
  • “Spain and Portugal: Competing for Power in an Age of Exploration,” an exhibit by Amy Herrema of West Springfield High School, Springfield, VA. Teacher:  Stephanie Shimp.
  • “Operation Overlord: Triumph of Cooperation,” a performance by Travis Afuso of Mililani High School, Mililani, HI. Teacher:  Amy Boehning.

The NHF plans to make the NHD Teacher of Distinction awards an annual event.

“An important part of our mission is to educate the next generation on the importance of naval history,” Admiral Fallon said.  “Recognizing excellent teachers and bringing them into our Foundation is a big step in that direction.”





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