2021 NHD Teachers of Distinction Award Press Release

For the fourth consecutive year, the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) will once again present “Teacher of Distinction” awards to teachers whose students are recognized for outstanding projects at the annual National History Day (NHD) competition for middle and high school students nationwide.  

Inaugurated in 2018, these awards go to teachers whose students (i) receive NHF’s annual Coskey Prizes for Naval History, (ii) rank first, second, or third nationally in their respective categories for projects with a naval or maritime theme.

Over half a million middle and high school students take part annually in NHD all over the United States.  In years past, some 3,000 finalists of those students and several hundred teachers have descended on the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, in mid-June for the final rounds of the national competition.  Like last year, however, the competition this year will again be conducted in a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The virtual national contest will take place June 13-19.    

NHD has a broad theme for the contest every year.  This year’s theme is, “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”  Student projects are expected to be consistent with the NHD theme.

There are five project categories: papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites, and performances.  Competition begins at individual schools in the fall, with the top middle and high school winners advancing to regional, state, and national competitions.  Some 600,000 students from the United States, District of Columbia, territories, and international schools in China, Korea, South Asia, and Central America participate annually.

The NHF awards consist of $200 honorariums, NHF certificates of achievement, one-year NHF memberships, and access to NHF Navy-related research assistance. 

The Coskey Prizes are named after the late Captain Ken Coskey, a Navy pilot, Vietnam prisoner of war, and former NHF executive director.  The prizes were established in 1999.  Every year since then NHF has awarded two Coskey Prizes to superior NHD projects in naval history.  Each prize is a $1,000 student award. 

In the three prior years since the Teacher of Distinction awards were initiated, NHF has recognized 43 teachers from 27 states and one territory, Guam. 

“It’s wonderful to see such widespread interest in naval and maritime history by teachers and students alike,” said Admiral William Fallon, USN (Ret.), NHF chairman.  “While the students receive the NHD awards – as they should – we’re pleased to recognize the teachers who inspire the students to produce such outstanding naval and maritime projects.”  

Education of the generation to follow is one of NHF’s key missions.


2021 Teachers of Distinction

Justin Carroll, Deer Creek Middle School, Edmond, OK

Stephanie Hammer, William Monroe Middle School, Stanardsville, VA

Cathy Kaus, Chadron Senior High School, Chadron, NE

Alfred Meadows, Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven, CT

Julie Mitchell, Bradley Central High School, Cleveland, TN

Megan Souchek, New Caney High School, New Caney, TX

Brian Zawodniak, John F. Kennedy Middle School, Plantsville, CT


2020 Teachers of Distinction

David Ishii, Laie Elementary School, Laie, HI

Laura Lucente, Red Maple Academy, New Milford, CT

Julie Mitchell, Bradley Central High School, Cleveland, TN

Janyce Omura, Maui High School, Kahalui, HI

Irene Soohoo, Pleasant Valley Middle School, Vancouver, WA

Colleen Spring, Laie Elementary School, Laie, HI

Melissa Spruill, Cane Creek Middle School, Fletcher, NC


2019 Teachers of Distinction

Erica Bell, Edison Middle School, Sioux Falls, SD

Jon Blasko, Nimitz High School, Humble, TX

Amy Boehning, Mililani High School, Mililani, HI          

Pam Brown, All Saints Catholic School, Moore, OK

R. Rodrigo Garcia, Veterans Memorial Early College High School, Brownsville, TX

Blair Hennessy, Lincoln High School, Portland, OR

Michael Lee, Winchester High School, Winchester, MA

Alfred Meadows, Wilbur Cross High School, New Haven, CT

Al Plummer, Northshore Junior High School, Bothell, WA

Cherie Redelings, Francis Parker School, Bonita, CA

Elizabeth Thornewood, Sunset High School, Beaverton, OR


2018 Teachers of Distinction

William Boniface, Northside Junior High School, Bothell, WA

Amy Boehning, Mililani High School, Mililani, HI

Paul Clemente, Felix Festa Character Middle School, West Nyack, NY

Nathanial Cole, EL Haynes Public Charter School, Washington, DC

Zach Crandall, Southern Hills Middle School, Boulder, CO

James Cross, Eastern Middle School, Kentwood, MI

Caitlin Daniels, Deal Middle School, Washington, DC

Stacie Garber, Caravel Academy, Bear, DE

Richard Gehrman, Waccamaw Middle School, Pawleys Island, SC

Mindy Greenberg, American Heritage School of Boca/Delray, Delray Beach, FL

Ben Hale, John Bapst Memorial High School, Bangor, ME

Brenda Hainey, Royal Valley Middle School, Mayetta, KS

Kevin Holden, Narragansett Pier School, Narragansett, RI

Jonathan Kiljik, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Patty Lien, St. Benedict School, Decorah, IA

Katie McCrary, West Henderson High School, Henderson, NC

Casey Metcalfe, Sanford Middle School, Minneapolis, MN

Debbie Pearson, Tri-County North Middle School, Lewisburg, OH

Jenifer Pilot, Sanford Middle School, Minneapolis, MN

Patricia Sellar, Auten Road Intermedia School, Hillsborough, NJ

Stephanie Shimp, West Springfield High School, Springfield, VA

Yvette Simpson-Wayne, Deal Middle School, Washington, DC

Susan Sittenauer, Seaman High School, Topeka, KS

Amy Steadman, Derby North Middle School, Derby, KS

Valerie Tanayan, Untalan Middle School, Guam

Melissa Waycaster, West Henderson High School, Henderson, NC


2021 Press Release

2020 Press Release

2019 Press Release

2018 Press Release