Adam Laye, social studies department chair at Parkville High School, has been named the 2021 Maryland History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.
In 2021, parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Laye’s name rose to the top in Maryland. In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Laye’s school, Parkville High, will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials, and Laye will be recognized at a ceremony in Maryland.
Laye has been teaching American history and American government for the past 15 years. He taught at Randallstown High before Parkville High. It was in college, at Frostburg State College, that Laye decided to apply his interest in social sciences to a career in education. Laye, who holds both a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and a master’s degree in teaching from Frostburg, is recognized for his inquiry-based approach to teaching history.
“We have been using inquiry as the center point of our instruction,” Laye said, “exploring multiple viewpoints, teaching kids to think historically. With our approach, instead of history being taught as a set of answers, we give kids questions to probe. That makes the learning of history rich and full of life. A lot of historical issues are deeply unsettled. Looking at them through a diversity of viewpoints helps our student see the world more clearly and even helps them be better consumers of modern-day news.”
Laye particularly enjoyed teaching about Reconstruction: “It feels like all roads go back to Reconstruction. Unresolved issues from that period weave through the decades. We continue to have so many of the same debates.”
“I enjoy the challenge of making history relevant to my students’ lives,” Laye said, “by giving them the tools to derive meaning from it.”
Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.
The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®
Nominations for the 2022 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award. The deadline for 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.
About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.
At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 70,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the public with direct access to unique primary source materials.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, and the Council of Independent Colleges.