The bi-annual Griffin Award for Teacher of Excellence recognizes outstanding teachers in social studies, art, and world history in the states of Illinois and Indiana. One winner will be selected from each of the following school levels: elementary school (grades 3-5), middle school (grades 6-8), and high school (grades 9-12). The winners will be selected by nominations — self or others. Each winner will be awarded a named plaque, a complimentary Educator Pass (a teacher membership) for a year, and an invitation to become a member of the Oriental Institute’s Teacher Advisory Council for the following two school years.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the award, an applicant must have at least one year of teaching experience, and be a current teacher with valid identification of an affiliated school. The evaluation criteria are as follows:

1. Use of innovative teaching methods that engage students in the discoveries about ancient Middle Eastern history and culture (such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, and Nubia). Exemplary applications will demonstrate some combination of:

  • Use interdisciplinary approach in teaching
  • Innovative or non-conventional use of primary sources
  • Strong and explicit alignment with national standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, Next Generations Science Standards, or National Core Arts Standards
  • Help students in skill development through the study of history
  • Adopt active research for students’ projects

2. Dedication to recognize students’ learning progress and achievements. Exemplary applications will demonstrate:

  • Providing opportunities for students or helping students present their projects within the community (such as exhibition of their art, publishing their writing, organizing an afterschool presentation)

3. Dedication to mentoring/coaching other teachers in their professional development. Exemplary applications will demonstrate:

  • Evidence of peer mentorship at own school or other higher education institute/organization

Congratulations to the winners of 2016 Griffin Award!

Shana Pearlmutter, art teacher at Bell Elementary School
Janet Roller-Schmidt, art teacher at Hinsdale South High School
Scott Zagalak, 5th grade teacher at Alcott College Prep Middle School

Please check back for the upcoming nomination information.


Questions? Email