Monday, September 25, 2023

Olive Foster Outstanding Teacher Award

Illinois State Historical Society   |   Strawbridge-Shepherd House   |   PO Box 1800   |   Springfield, IL 62705-1800

olive foster portrait

Do you know an outstanding history or social studies teacher in Illinois? The ISHS Education Committee seeks nominations for the Olive Foster Outstanding Teacher Award. This award honors Olive Foster, former Illinois State Historian, Director of the School Services Program, and originator of the Illinois History Program for students. The annual award is designed to recognize and reward a full-time teacher for outstanding contributions to the study and teaching of state and local history. Recipients of this award actively promote Illinois history in schools as well as in their local communities, using the resources of one or more local historical societies, museums, the ISHS, and other Illinois-based historical organizations. Documentation of the teacher's work is required. A $1,000 award will be given in 2024 to an Illinois teacher from one of the following categories:


  1. elementary school level,
  2. middle/junior high school level
  3. high school level.


The award will be presented at the Illinois State Historical Society's Annual Awards Banquet in 2024. Nominations may be made by any group or person, including the nominee, and should be accompanied by the following information:


  • Nominee's name and address
  • Nominee's subject and grade level
  • Nominator's name and contact information
  • The school where the teacher is employed
  • Contact information for the school's principal
  • Nominee's educational background
  • Nominee's professional experience
  • A narrative description of the nominee's outstanding classroom accomplishments. This should include specific history units taught by the nominee and information about local museums or historical societies that were involved. Digital supporting documentation (e.g., YouTube videos of the teacher teaching, students’ projects, etc.) will also be accepted. Commentary on the results or impact of the programs and how they were developed may be included. Other awards won by the nominee or nominee's students should also be included.
  • Letter of support or recommendation
  • The Society's Education Committee will judge all nominations and select the winner.

Informational Letter (PDF)
Download Application (PDF)

Submission must be postmarked or emailed by January 15, 2024.

Nominations may be submitted via paper to: Illinois State Historical Society, Foster Award, PO Box 1800, Springfield, IL 62705-1800.

For more information, call the Illinois State Historical Society at 217-525-2781.

Recent Recipient

2022 Olive Foster Teacher Award Recipient

2023 ISHS Olive Foster Teacher of the Year Award winner Amanda Becker. Rockford Auburn High School, Rockford.

Previous Recipients

2022: Jodi Mitts, Lincoln Magnet School, Springfield
2021: Kelbey McMath, Clinton Junior High School
2020: Lance Boldt, Mt. Vernon Township High School
2019: Tammy Greene, Kings Consolidated School District 144
2018: Richard J. Hansen, Mt. Zion High School
2017: Mark McBride  Tri Valley High School, Downs
2015: Debra Liu, Solomon School, Chicago
2014: Mark Motsinger, Carrier-Mills Stonefort High School
2013: Teresa Heinhorst, Midwest Central High School, Manito
2011: Robyn Williams, Harrisburg High School
2011: Darrel Dexter, Egyptian Community High School, Tamms
2011: Michelle Okrzesik, Worth Elementary School
2011: Sherry Strycker, Worth Elementary School
2010: Charles Hilmes, Breese Elementary School
2010: Donna Bowen Brown, Elizabeth Peabody Elementary School, Chicago
2010: Elizabeth Robbins, Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, Chicago
2008: Leonard White, Rockford School District
2008: Rick Williams, Judah Christian High School, Champaign
2007: Jeffrey Welker, Roxana Community School District #1
2007: Jenni Dahl, Springfield High School
2007: John Taylor, Springfield High School
2007: Mary Bellman, Chicago
2007: Katy Arme, Plainfield
2006: Betsy Brown, Lewis Elementary School, Carbondale

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