The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History named Springtown Middle School history teacher Nancy Palmarchuk as Texas’ 2019 History Teacher of the Year.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute annually awards a teacher in each state, as well as in the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. Territories, and a national winner. The award honors teachers of grade levels kindergarten through 12th. Candidates are evaluated based on a commitment to teaching American history, creativity in the classroom and effective use of primary sources to engage students, according to the institute’s website.
Palmarchuk said receiving this award is an incredible honor. She has taught for 36 years, including about 20 years in Springtown. She also received the Betty Barringer Award from the Texas Council for Social Studies in 2017.
“I love Springtown — it’s the perfect town,” Palmarchuk said. “I love the students and parents at the middle school. I can’t imagine teaching anything else other than middle school history.”
A ceremony for Palmarchuk was held last week and included recognition from state and national lawmakers. The city of Springtown declared last Thursday “Nancy Palmarchuk Day.” What was most touching to Palmarchuk was when one of her former students, who is studying to become a middle school teacher, gave a speech about how Palmarchuk inspired her.
“There are no words when a student gets up and says, ‘I am becoming a middle school history teacher because of you,’” Palmarchuk said. “It lets you know that you’re doing your job.”
Springtown Middle School Principal Mark Wilson recommended Palmarchuk for the award and described her as a passionate teacher. Wilson said students are often excited to go to her class.
“She makes rap songs and raps the history to them, totally 100 percent engagement in that class by all students and her,” Wilson said. “[The award is] something she deserved.”
Palmarchuk said she tries to entertain her students in an educational way, especially since nowadays kids can now be instantly entertained via their smartphones.
“I just try to make my classroom a place where they want to go,” Palmarchuk said. “I want them to want to come to history, and I want them to leave talking about the things that we studied, but unless I can correlate what I teach to what’s happening in their lives, it’s not relevant to them.”
The award includes $1,000, which Palmarchuk is using to buy supplies and tools for her classroom, and a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials.