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.

2021 Winners


Level TOY


Level TOY


Level TOY

Civil Rights & Liberties Excellence in Teaching

KMT pic.jpg

Tara Kemp

DuPont Elementary

Chattanooga, TN

Katie Martin Taylor

Treadwell Middle School

Memphis, TN

Nancy Baxly

Signal Mountain High/Middle School

Signal Mountain, TN

Coach John Spratling

Robertsville Middle School

Oak Ridge, TN


Geography TOY


Geography TOY

Covino Head Shot.jpg
Holmes Headshot.png

Ralph Covino

Girls Preparatory School

Chattanooga, TN

Tiffiany Holmes

Lonsdale Elementary School

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

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

  1. A one-page summary of why teaching the Tennessee Civil Rights Movement is important (not to exceed 1 page).

  2. A comprehensive lesson plan demonstrating a lesson about important people and events in the Tennessee Civil Rights Movement (not to exceed 3 pages).

  3. Letter of recommendation from a supervisor (on letter head).

  4. Letter of recommendation from a colleague (on letter head).

  5. Student sample work (3 max in a single document).