Kelly Dunbar/Owen High

Kelly Dunbar, a teacher at Charles D. Owen High School in Asheville, has been named the 2022 State History Teacher of the Year. This award is 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.

“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,” said James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “Teachers are the lifeblood of our students’ education, and these are the best of the best.”

Kelly Dunbar graduated with a BA in history and a teaching license from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Following graduation, she served for two years in the United States Peace Corps in Uganda. Currently, Kelly teaches Civics Literacy, American History, and AP U.S. History. In 2021 Kelly finished her MA in American History through Pace University, NY. Kelly inspires her students to move beyond the confines of a prescribed curriculum and imagine constructing new knowledge to share and inform others. She invites students to take primary sources in our local area to construct stories like a historian helping us all better understand the community in which we live.

“What most impresses me about [Kelly’s] teaching is her ability to be a visionary and to break down the complex processes so her students are not stressed. Her guidance and teaching make anything and all things seem possible,” said Samantha Gallman, Media Specialist and School Improvement Team Chair.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Dunbar receives a core archive of American history
books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials, recognition at a local ceremony in their honor, and becomes one of 53 finalists for the 2022 National History Teacher of the Year Award.

The winner of this year’s National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced in October 2022. Past presenters of the award 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 2023 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 2023 nominations is April 30, 2023.