Dr. Melissa Collins, second grade teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School, has been named both the 2022-23 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and Tennessee’s 2022 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year.
Tennessee Education Commissioner presented Dr. Collins with the Teacher of the Year Award on Thursday night during the state's Excellence in Education celebration in Nashville.
A day after receiving the state's top teaching award, Dr. Collins was announced as the winner of the Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year.
The annual award is presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, an organization that promotes and enriches K-12 American history education.
“Dr. Collins is an awesome educator whose thoughtfulness, creativity, and passion for education have propelled her to the top of her field,” said Dr. Angela Whitelaw, MSCS Deputy Superintendent of Academic. “Great teachers like Collins are one of the reasons that Memphis-Shelby County Schools is trending up!”
Dr. John Barker, MSCS Deputy Superintendent of Strategic Operations echoed that praise.
“We have so many employees in Memphis-Shelby County Schools who are shining stars, and Dr. Collins is without a doubt one of those bright stars. We are all so proud to have her working with our students.”
With her back-to-back honors, Collins is now a finalist for both the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year Award and the 2022 National Teacher of the Year Award.
For more information on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History honor, please see the press release below.
For more information on Collins’ Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award please click here.
Knoxville, Tennessee (August 26, 2022): Dr. Melissa Collins, second grade educator at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis, TN, has been named Tennessee’s 2022 Gilder Lehrman 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.
Inaugurated in 2004, 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.
“Knowledgeable and impassioned teachers bring our country's history to life for students, allowing them to understand engaging with history is about more than a series of facts,” said James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “Teachers are the lifeblood of our students’ education, and these are the best of the best.”
Dr. Collins is a teacher who is passionate about teaching American History to her students. Through her engaging lessons and the rich experiences she designs for her students, she teaches them about what has happened in history and how it impacts our world today. Her goal is to instill a love for history through role-playing, school-wide theatrical productions, field experiences, research, and engaging with a wide range of original, primary sources. Through innovative teaching, she sparks her students’ sense of civic engagement which they will carry forward in their education and personal lives.
“Dr. Melissa Collins is an energetic, highly acclaimed teacher leader, and an enthusiastic cheerleader for the education of all children in the area of American history!” says Dr. Keyundah Coleman, principal at John P. Freeman Optional School. “She is an excellent, noteworthy educator who is a unique asset to our profession.”
In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Dr. Collins receives a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials, recognition at the September 28 Tennessee Council of History Education conference, and becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year Award.
The winner of this year’s National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced in October 2022. Past presenters of the award include the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, First Lady Laura Bush, former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Nominations for the 2023 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy. The deadline for 2023 nominations is April 30, 2023.
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.
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, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the National Daughters of the American Revolution.