State History TOY

Ripley High School Teacher Named 2021 West Virginia History Teacher of the Year


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Adena Barnette, a teacher at Ripley High School, has been named the 2021 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.

In 2021, parents, students, teachers and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Barnette rose to the top in West Virginia.

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 U.S. Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners. 

In 2003, Adena Barnette earned her bachelor’s education degree from West Virginia Wesleyan, and she returned to her alma mater, Ripley High School, to teach. Barnette won the 2011 James Madison Foundation Fellowship, which funded her master’s degree in American history and government from Ashland University in Ohio. Barnette also won the WV DAR Outstanding Teacher of American History in 2016 and she placed third in the nationwide contest.  In 2019, she was the first West Virginian to win the James Madison Congressional Fellowship -- a summer-long legislative fellowship in Washington, D.C. Barnette believes that to produce good citizens her students must understand our history and participate in our democracy. Her goal is to develop critical thinkers who can solve the issues facing our communities, our state and our country.  

“Mrs. Barnette is an outstanding representative of our state’s education community because she realizes the impact that creativity and innovation can make on a student’s future,” State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said. “We are so proud that she has been recognized at the state level for her commitment to making American history come to life in the classroom.”

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Barnette’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in West Virginia.

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, September 9, 2021, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®

Nominations for the 2022 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 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.

For more information about the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the annual History Teacher of the Year Award, contact Josh Landon at

For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or