Mark Foley named 2018 Illinois History Teacher of the Year

Urbana – Mark Foley, a teacher at Urbana High School, has been named the 2018 Illinois 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.

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 US Territories. In fall 2018, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

Mark Foley began his career in Urbana School District 116 in 1998, after teaching in South Korea for over a year.  He received his master’s degree in Education Psychology from the University of Illinois in 2003.  Foley focuses on creating quality education experiences for his students by taking them outside of the traditional curriculum, and often outside of the classroom.  He has worked with a team of teachers at UHS to partner with Habitat for Humanity, implementing service-learning opportunities for his students in both Champaign/Urbana and Tutwiler, MS.  His work to immerse his students in the experience of history, social justice, and place-based learning has had a powerful impact on Urbana’s students, and stands as a testament to the importance of creative risk-taking in education.  When students leave his classroom they have not only learned valuable information, they have become engaged and informed citizens.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium and an award ceremony in Illinois, Mark Foley's school library will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials. Foley will also receive an invitation to a 2019 Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar, a weeklong program that offers teachers daily discussions with eminent historians, visits to historic sites, and hands-on work with primary sources.

The National History Teacher of the Year award will be presented by Professor Edward Ayers at a ceremony in New York City on October 10, 2018. Past presenters at the ceremony include the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, First Lady Laura Bush, former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Nominations for the 2019 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting The deadline for 2019 nominations is March 30, 2019.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

Urbana School District #116 is a unit district located in east central Illinois. Our outstanding schools in an outstanding community comprise of an early childhood school, six neighborhood elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and an adult education center.  To discover more about our award winning schools and students, please visit You can find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter: @Urbana116.



Outstanding schools in an outstanding community!

Urbana School District | 205 North Race St. | P.O. Box 3039 | Urbana, IL 61803-3039

News Release

Contact: JoAnne Geigner

Phone: (217) 384-3500



Date: 24 July 2018


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