Published: Aug. 10, 2021

CU History Alumnus, Duke Richey (PhD '06)The - Dr. Duke Richey, a teacher at McCallie School, Chattanooga, has been named the 2021 Tennessee History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the national organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. 

In 2021, parents, students, teachers and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Dr. Richey rose to the top in Tennessee, officials said.

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 U.S. Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners. 

Dr. Richey’s main goal as a social studies educator is “that my students feel that history is intensely personal and that we all have tangible links to the past.” Whether producing nationally competitive National History Day projects, conducting oral interviews with local veterans or going on the road to research in collections, visit museums and historic sites, or just steep themselves in the place and time studied, Dr. Richey’s students explore the intended and unintended consequences found in the study of American history: as Dr. Richey observes “we simply can’t predict some of the things that are going to end up shaping our own lives, much less the story of American history going forward.” It is this integration of discovery and inquiry into the classroom, as well as Dr. Richey’s high expectations and community service as a historian himself, that stood out when being considered for the Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year recognition.  

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Dr. Richey’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at the annual conference of the Tennessee Council for History Education held in Nashville on Sept. 29. 

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY.