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Elementary Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award

The annual NCSS Outstanding Teacher of the Year Awards recognize exceptional classroom social studies teachers for grades K-6. Award winners receive $2,500, complimentary one-year membership in NCSS, and present a session on their work at the NCSS Annual Conference, and up to $500 in transportation/lodging reimbursement to attend the Annual Conference.



Application Submissions Open: TBA


  • Anyone may nominate. Self nominations will be accepted.

  • Nominee must be a member of NCSS.
  • Nominee must be a Social studies teacher for grades K-6 who teach social studies regularly and systematically in elementary school settings.
  • Nominees cannot be nominated for the award in more than one category (i.e., junior high/middle school teachers are ineligible for the secondary award).


Demonstrated exceptional abilities in the seven categories listed below:

Submission Requirements

Each nominee/applicant will be responsible for gathering and submitting all required materials by the assigned due date. Failure to submit all materials by the deadline will disqualify the nominee/applicant for the current award cycle.


Applicants must complete the online application and be prepared to upload the following documents within the application.  Links to external websites are not acceptable, and will be disregarded by the selection committee.  Max. file size to be uploaded for each non-text box item is 1MB. File types accepted are: pdf, doc, docx.

  1. Activities - The applicant will describe the top five activity/activities of which he/she is most proud that exemplify 2-3 of the award criteria. (Embedded text box limit 500 words).

  2. Philosophy of Teaching Social Studies - The applicant will describe his/her approach to teaching social studies. This can include, but is not limited to, interaction with students and parents, pedagogical approaches, integration of technology, differentiation of curriculum to accommodate learning styles and abilities and views on assessment. (see (Embedded text box - limit 500 words).

  3. Curriculum vita/resume (2 page maximum) that includes:

    • Current teaching assignment
    • Education
    • Professional work history
    • School related activities
    • Responsibilities
    • Organizations
    • Leadership roles
    • Membership in professional organizations
    • Awards/grants/other honors
    • Presentations and/or publications
  4. Applicant/nominee lesson plan including:

    • Grade level
    • Subject and topic taught
    • A brief statement indicating the position of the lesson within a larger unit of study (e.g. lesson on Boston Tea Party in American Revolution unit-- lesson 3 of 10) (text box, max 75 words)
    • Materials needed (text box, max 50 words)
    • Applicable standards addressed (e.g., nominee's State content standards) (text box, max 100 words)
    • C3 Framework dimensions integrated / addressed ( (text box, max 100 words)
    • Prerequisite skills/knowledge students will need for the lesson (text box, max 75 words)
    • Resources used or researched by teacher in preparation for teaching the lesson/unit (text box, max 75 words)
    • Detailed descriptions of (and rationale for) instructional activities and pedagogical tools utilized within the lesson  (text box, max 650 words)
    • A brief statement indicating how the lesson addressed the diversity of learners within the classroom (text box, max 150 words)
    • Teacher reflection on student learning (including sharing/explaining examples of student work) based on submitted lesson plan: What went well? What would you do differently? Did student outcomes reflect that there was growth in skills and content learning? (text box, max 325 words)
  5. Letter of endorsement by State Council or recommendation from nominator (2 page maximum) - if you are nominating yourself, you must have a letter of endorsement from your State Council or a recommendation from a Colleague. 

    • Describe the ways this teacher exhibits excellence in social studies instruction
    • Describe how this teacher demonstrates professional leadership and relates to his/her colleagues.
    • Describe this teacher's unique qualifications to serve as the NCSS Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year
  6. A letter from your principal or immediate supervisor including performance responsibility (2 page maximum) addressing the following:

    • What creative projects make this teacher's work outstanding?
    • How are the concepts of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework ( integrated in this teacher's work?
    • In what ways has this teacher influenced students?
    • Describe how this teacher demonstrates professional leadership and relates to his/her colleagues.
    • How does this teacher demonstrate knowledge of content that leads to high levels of student learning?
  7. A letter from parent or student that highlights teacher effectiveness, unique abilities, memorable experiences, etc. (2 page maximum)

    • Describe how this teacher demonstrates knowledge and appreciation of students' varying skills, approaches to learning, and cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Biographical Sketch

Please prepare to submit a 200 word biographical sketch in a narrative format that includes both personal and professional information. Please include several of your top accomplishments in the social studies area, any professional leadership activities and memberships and what you feel to be your biggest strengths as an educator. If you are selected as the award winner, this statement will be published in publicity materials (200 word limit).


Criteria will be evaluated by the following indicators:

  1. Creativity
  2. Knowledge of Students (Developmental and Cultural Relevance)
  3. Leadership/Professionalism
  4. Social Studies pedagogy
  5. Social studies content knowledge
  6. Incorporation of state and NCSS curriculum standards, and C3 Framework concepts.

Note: Nomination materials that are incomplete or that do not meet the established criteria will not be considered. The subcommittee will consider composition, spelling, grammar, etc. in the evaluation process.

If you are re-applying, please note that you need to complete a new application and upload fresh recommendations. You will have five days to access and update your form after your initial submission. For questions, contact


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