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The annual TCSS Social Studies Teacher of the Year Awards recognize exceptional Tennessee classroom Social Studies teachers in the areas of Elementary (grades K-6), Middle (grades 5-8), Secondary (grades 7-12), and Civil Rights/Civil Liberties (grades K-12).


Award winners will receive free registration for the TCSS State Conference and a complimentary one-year membership in TCSS.  Each award winner will be honored with a plaque and cash prize.

Click the links above to submit a nomination or email them to Patsy Brooks at

2022 Winners


Level TOY


Level TOY


Level TOY

Civil Rights & Liberties Excellence in Teaching

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Brandon Oneill headshot.jpg

Shaina West

Chapel Hill Elementary

Chapel Hill, TN

Brittany Ann Taylor

Rockvale MS

Rockvale, TN

Dusty Helton

Pigeon Forge HS Pigeon Forge, TN

Brandon O'Neill

Fulton HS

Knoxville, TN


  • Nominations will be accepted from anyone, including self-nominations.

  • Nominees must be a Social Studies teacher for grades K-6 (Elementary Level), 5-8 (Middle Level), or 7-12 (Secondary Level) who teaches social studies regularly and systematically in elementary settings, or at least half time in middle/junior high and high school settings.

Elementary, Middle, Secondary Level Requirements

Applicants are required to submit the following documents using the links above (in PDF or Word format):

  1. Biographical Sketch (not to exceed 1 page)

  2. Letters of Support:

    1. A letter from your immediate supervisor with performance responsibility on letterhead. 

    2. A letter from a professional colleague (a teacher in your building, a professor, or district supervisor). On letterhead.

    3. A letter from a student or a parent of a student.

  3. Vita or Professional Resume (not to exceed 2 pages)

    1. list 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 (not to exceed 3 pages)

  5. Applicant Narrative describing how he/she demonstrates exceptional abilities in at least four of the five categories listed below (not to exceed 4 pages).

    1. Develop or use instructional materials creatively and effectively.

    2. Incorporate Tennessee Social Studies Standards and Literacy Standards in the Social Studies.

    3. Utilize new scholarship from history, the social sciences, or other appropriate fields.

    4. Demonstrated ability to foster a spirit of inquiry and the development of skills related to acquiring, organizing, processing, and using information and making decisions related to both domestic and international matters.

    5. Demonstrated ability to foster the development of democratic beliefs and values, and the skills needed for citizen participation and civic responsibility appropriate to students' grade level in classroom, school, and community settings.

Civil Rights/Liberties Teaching Excellence Requirements

The Civil Rights/ Civil Liberties Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes and honors the accomplishments of a social studies teacher in the area of Civil Rights/Civil Liberties. Nominees inspire students to be fully informed about their Civil Rights and Civil Liberties assured by the Constitution. This teacher is someone who inspires students to take informed action when they see injustices and to be responsible, contributing members of our democracy. This award captivates the teaching spirit of Ida B. Wells-Barnette, James Lawson, Diane Nash, John Lewis and others; and also serves to honor a teacher  who is striving to continue his or her work advancing civil rights and civil liberties. The recipient will be recognized at the luncheon during the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference to be held at Franklin Embassy Suites, Franklin, Tennessee (March 2 – 3).

Award:  $250 and a plaque

Application Deadline:   January 16. 2023

Email applications to:  Submit via the link above or email to Patsy Brooks at



 Any Tennessee Elementary, Middle, or High School Teacher teaching Social Studies. Self-nominations are welcome. 



 Demonstrated ability to:

  • Educate students about their civil rights and civil liberties assured by the Constitution.                     

  • Educate students about key historical figures and events in the pursuit of civil rights and civil liberties.

  • Inspire students to be responsible members of our democracy.

  • Inspire students to take informed action against injustices.

Portfolio Requirements:

Applicants are required to submit a portfolio to include the following:

  1. Completed Application Form placed as first page of portfolio.

  2. Two letters of support on letter heads, one from a supervisor (principal or director of    schools) and the other from a professional colleague.

  3. Curriculum vita or resume (2 page maximum) that include.

    • Current Teaching assignment

    • Education

    • Professional Work History

    • A description of the applicant’s involvement in school, civic, and professional organizations.

    • Leadership roles

    • Awards, grants, and other honors

    • Presentations and/or publications

  4. A description of the classroom setting, population demographics, goals and rationale for those goals as they pertain to the Award criteria

  5. A description of the top three class activities that the nominee feels exemplify the award criteria (maximum of 300 words).

  6. An applicant lesson plan (3 pages maximum)

  7. Supporting documents (3 examples maximum not to exceed 3 pages).

  8. (Optional) Head shot of nominee is requested so that TCSS can use it for its website and press releases should the nominee when the award.  Local press information would be helpful as well.

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