2020 Teacher of Merit Award Winner
Deborah Pettingill, Largo High School (Pinellas)
Deborah Pettingill has taught at Largo High School for over two decades. She is a graduate of the Humanities and Cultural Studies program at the University of South Florida. Ms. Pettingill has mentored students who have represented Florida at the National History Day competition, most recently in 2019’s “Triumph and Tragedy in History” theme year.
Ms. Pettingill has traveled to the Normandy American Cemetery in France, for her research on Pvt. Leo K. Chalcraft, a Florida World War II soldier, in collaboration with her student, Konner Ross. The trip was a culmination of work in the “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute” silent hero project coordinated by National History Day in 2016.
Florida History Day annually honors an educator with the Teacher of Merit Award for creative history teaching within and outside the classroom. To be eligible, a teacher must be a participant in the Florida History Day program with at least three years of experience. The individual selected will receive a $250 prize, sponsored by Florida Council for History Education (FLCHE). Evaluation criteria for the award are presented below.
1. Development and use of creative teaching methods that interest students in history and help them to make exciting discoveries about the past.
- active learning projects within and outside the classroom, such as mock debates between historical characters or oral history projects within the community;
- innovative use of primary historical source material in the classroom;
- use of communication technology in history research and classroom learning;
- practice of teaching methods that link history to students' broader interests—for example, through interdisciplinary approaches to history topics or the development of projects that link history to current events and debates; and,
- the use of teaching methods that build a range of skills in students as they study history.
2. Exemplary commitment to helping students develop their interest in history and recognizing their achievements.
- exemplary support and guidance for students working on History Day projects;
- helping students showcase their history projects within the community and/or publish their material;
- overall commitment to the intellectual development of individual students; and,
- encouragement of students to use their understanding of history to become engaged, informed citizens in their community and beyond.
Interested teachers should submit an application form, resume, and narrative about how they meet the evaluation criteria. They also must submit three letters of support, written by a student, parent, colleague, or administrator.
Applications must be mailed or emailed to the FHD state coordinator by March 20, 2020.
Download the Teacher of Merit Award Criteria and Application ( Word, 328 KB)
Mail applications to:
Florida History Day Coordinator
Museum of Florida History
500 S. Bronough St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
Email applications to: