Santa Ana educator nominated for National History Day’s top teacher honor

Erik Peterson, a teacher at Santiago Elementary in Santa Ana Unified School District, has been nominated for National History Day’s  Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award.

Peterson is the junior division nominee from California. Each of the 58 National History Day affiliates may nominate one middle school teacher for this award. Nominees are selected for demonstrating a commitment to engaging students in historical learning through innovative use of primary sources, implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical thinking skills, and participation in the National History Day Contest. All nominees will receive $500.

“Teachers are among the greatest resources children have to develop the skills necessary to become critical thinkers,” National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn said in a news release. “The nominees for the Behring Award have shown a dedication to teaching that goes beyond the classroom. I congratulate Mr. Peterson on his well-deserved nomination.”

The award is sponsored by Patricia Behring, widow of the late Kenneth E. Behring, who previously sponsored the National History Day National Contest for many years. The national winner will be selected by a committee of experienced teachers and historians, and will be announced June 18 at the National History Day National Contest Awards Ceremony held at the University of Maryland, College Park. (The event could be held virtually, depending on the ongoing health crisis.)

National History Day is a non-profit that seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.

In California, National History Day engages over 40,000 students annually from grades four through 12 in historical inquiry through research and analysis. For more information, visit