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Mari Harris Named 2017 Idaho History Teacher of the Year
posted by: Cindy Omlin | August 28, 2017, 11:28 PM   

Mari Harris, a teacher and NWPE member at Vallivue High School, has been named the 2017 Idaho 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.

mari harrisInaugurated 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. In fall 2017, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

In 2006, Mari Harris received her bachelor’s degrees in History and Secondary Education at the University of Idaho and in 2013 completed a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho. Harris’ passion for history is seen in her classroom daily. Students engage in document analysis, understanding the words of founding fathers, and projects bringing history alive. Harris’s students reap the rewards of having a teacher passionate about history, making them lifelong learners of their country’s past. Students are encouraged to dive into history with dress up days, researching and creating personal connections to lessons. Students see the reality of history and are challenged daily to go beyond the textbook with Harris as a guide in the classroom. When asked about her goal as a history teacher, Harris says that “You don’t learn History to avoid repeating the past, you learn history to see the lessons that we need to pay attention to in the future.” Harris is an advocate for history education in Idaho, increasing student engagement with history and civics education. In addition to teaching at Vallivue High School, Harris is the Social Studies Department Chair, National Honor Society Advisor, a facilitator for Project Archaeology, a member of the Idaho State Historical Society Education committee and a lifelong student of all things history!

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium and an award ceremony in Idaho, Mari Harris’s school library will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials. Mari Harris will also receive an invitation to a 2018 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar, a weeklong program that offers teachers daily discussions with eminent historians, visits to historic sites, and hands-on work with primary sources.

The National History Teacher of the Year award will be presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner at a ceremony in New York City on November 8, 2017. Past presenters at the ceremony 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 2018 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting The deadline for 2018 nominations is March 30, 2018.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

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