KSDE Weekly

Upcoming Events, Trainings and Recognition

Olathe elementary school teacher named 2023 Kansas History Teacher of the Year

Olathe elementary school teacher named 2023 Kansas History Teacher of the Year

Since 2004, 1,013 exemplary American history educators have been recognized as State History Teachers of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. This year, Rachel Swearengin, a fifth-grade teacher at Manchester Park Elementary School, joins them.

Swearengin was announced as the 2023 Kansas History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute earlier this month.

This award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary, middle and high schools. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and United States Territories.

Swearengin receives a $1,000 honorarium, a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials, and recognition at a local ceremony in her honor. She also becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced this fall.

Swearengin earned her bachelor’s degree from MidAmerica Nazarene in 2000.

“I began teaching fifth grade at Prairie Center Elementary School in the Olathe school district in 2001,” she said. “I taught for three years and then stayed home for the next seven while my children were little.”

Swearengin and her husband, Nathan, have been married nearly 25 years. They have three children, Tyler, 19, who is a sophomore at MidAmerica Nazarene; Julia, 17, a senior at Olathe South High School; and Luke,15, who is a sophomore at Olathe South High School.

“In 2011, I returned to teaching,” Swearengin said. “I taught kindergarten for two years at Heritage Elementary School in Olathe. In 2013, I transferred to my current position, fifth grade at Manchester Park Elementary School in Olathe. So, I am beginning my 16th year of teaching! I love teaching every subject, but I especially love social studies.”

She completed a master’s degree in 2018 in curriculum and instruction from Emporia State University.

As an educator, Swearengin’s lessons encourage students to think deeply about the content while solving problems in a classroom where history is intentionally integrated and aligned to students’ lives.

Swearengin also works with Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) staff members to develop, evaluate and share resources related to state social studies standards and assessments.

Nathan McAlister, humanities program manager/ history, government and social studies for KSDE, was named a 2010 Kansas History Teacher of the Year and was selected as the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year.

“I look back over the past 10 years in awe of all that I have been privileged to experience – whether it was a private tour of the U.S. Supreme Court, leading history workshops and seminars around the country or simply being asked for my opinion as a history education authority,” McAlister said.

Dr. Tina Ellsworth, current assistant professor of education at Northwest Missouri State University and a former Olathe USD 233 social studies coordinator, wrote a recommendation letter for Swearengin.

“Rachel challenges the traditional elementary practice of squeezing social studies content into ELA time,” Ellsworth wrote. “She flips the script and centers the teaching of history while effortlessly embedding language arts skills inside of it. Rachel is an enthusiastic role model for all elementary teachers on how to teach social studies. Her excellence in the classroom has also propelled Rachel into leadership roles in her district and in the state. I am proud of her and excited about the impact she’s having on students.”

Nominations for the 2024 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, educators and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers by visiting gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy.

To be considered for the award, eligible teachers must be nominated by a colleague, parent or student. After being nominated, teachers then must submit a resume, teaching materials and a letter of recommendation to be considered for the state award.

Any full-time educator of grades K-12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible to be nominated. American history must be taught as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading or language arts.

The nominated teacher must have at least three years of classroom teaching experience and must be planning to teach for at least one year following the award year, according to https://www.gilderlehrman.org/. Past state and national winners aren’t eligible. Self-nominations aren’t accepted.

State History Teacher of the Year winners are selected by a committee of educators and education professionals in their state.

All state finalists are finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award. A panel of former national winners, renowned historians and master teachers reviews all state winners’ materials and selects the National History Teacher of the Year. This year’s national winner will be announced in September and will receive a $10,000 award and a trip to the national awards ceremony in New York City.

Swearengin was nominated for the Gilder Lehrman Kansas History Teacher of the Year in the spring. She was notified Aug. 1 that she was the recipient.

“This award is very special to me because social studies is a subject that often does not receive very many instructional minutes in the elementary classroom, yet it is vital to helping students build a foundation of what it means to be a productive citizen in a democratic society,” Swearengin said. “I want to continue to spread that message. History is especially important as I want everyone to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, like those made by my grandfather who was a Marine during World War II. He was always so proud that his granddaughter was a teacher, and I know that he would have been so excited to see me receive this award.”

Posted: Aug 10, 2023,
Comments: 0,

Theme picker

Copyright 2024 by Kansas State Department of Education | 900 SW Jackson St. | Topeka, KS 66612 Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use  |  System Maintenance Notices  |  Open Records (PDF)

The Kansas State Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. (more information...)

To accommodate people with disabilities, on request, auxiliary aides and services will be provided and reasonable modifications to policies and programs will be made. To request accommodations or for more information please contact the Office of General Counsel at gc@ksde.org or by 785-296-3201.