Local teacher named finalist for national award


Nash Central High School teacher Renny Taylor


Staff Writer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Nash Central High School teacher and coach has been named as a top finalist for the National History Teacher of the Year Award.

Renny Taylor, who serves as history teacher and head boys basketball coach at Nash Central High School, was notified Wednesday that he is one of 10 finalists for the prestigious award this year. The award is presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.

The awards committee released an excerpt to the Telegram explaining the reason for its choice.

“The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s History Teacher of the Year Committee was particularly impressed with Taylor’s field trips, which take advantage of the latest digital history tools. Of particular note are his students' “Civil War to Civil Rights” field trip and accompanying eMaze presentation and the “Potter’s Raid on Rocky Mount Mills” documentary,” the statement said.

The History Teacher of the Year Award, which was first awarded in 2004, highlights the 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. This is the first time the committee has selected a group of finalists from the state honorees, a press release from the organization said.

“Knowledgeable and impassioned teachers bring our country's history to life for students, allowing them to understand engaging with history is about more than a series of facts,” James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History said in the release. “Teachers are the lifeblood of our students’ education, and these are the best of the best.”

Taylor told the Telegram he is honored to have made it this far.

“When you look at all of the state winners and take into account their credentials and philosophy of history, you realize that you are part of a pretty impressive group of people. When I was notified that I had made the final ten in the selection process, it was quite a daunting feeling. I really couldn't have gotten this far without administrators and colleagues at Nash Central High School that believed in me and classes of students who were willing to try new methods of instruction,” Taylor said.

Dr. Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said he is proud of Taylor, who was chosen to be Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year at a banquet in April.

"We have known for quite some time that Mr. Taylor is a positive and quality exemplar in the profession for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. What this process affirms is that he is a national exemplar for all that is great for kids and our profession and public education," Jefferies said.

Taylor is now in the final running for the National History Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in early October. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner at a ceremony to be held on Nov. 8 in New York City.