Teacher of the Year

Without our nation’s veterans, America wouldn't be the great nation it is today. Our youth deserve to learn about our rich history, traditions and the role of our veterans in creating and shaping America.

Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars selects elementary, middle, and high school teachers to participate in the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher program.

Please review the new rules and eligibility requirements and, click here for the 2021 nomination form to nominate a teacher you know. Teacher nomination entries must be received at a local participating VFW Post by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Looking to share updated information and materials on VFW's Voice of Democracy, Patriot's Pen and Teacher Award programs? Share our National Scholarship Brochure with the students and educators in your community.


And the 2020 Teacher of the Year winners are ...




TOTY Elementary Winner
Megan Joy Rodgers, a fourth-grade teacher at Brookfield Elementary School in Brookfield, Ohio, has been selected for its 2020 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the elementary level. Rodgers, sponsored by VFW Post 7538 in Struthers, Ohio, was chosen for her creative qualities, character and frequent efforts to organize field trips, activities and services to help her students learn about and recognize America’s veterans and their military service. Rodgers’ family history of service to our nation has helped her teach students patriotism, civic responsibility and patriotism. From coordinating a school-wide wall of honor to spotlight veterans and writing cards for veterans and deployed service members, to organizing school trips to Washington, D.C., and the 9/11 memorial in Austintown, Ohio, Rodgers’ passion and initiative are present daily in her classroom and throughout the school.
TOTY Middle School Winner
Michael Russell, an eighth grade science teacher at Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School in Bridgewater, New Jersey, has been selected for its 2020 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the middle school level. Russell, sponsored by VFW Post 370 in Highland Park, New Jersey, was chosen for his work creating initiatives designed to educate his students and the school on the importance and sacrifices of America’s veterans. A former sergeant with the Army National Guard and volunteer firefighter, Russell’s military and volunteer service have greatly influenced his teaching methods. From establishing a Veterans History Club which included veteran discussions, visits to veterans’ memorials and supporting the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, to organizing school-wide fundraisers to generate donations and supplies for service members, veterans and their families, his dedication and initiatives in the classroom have enabled him to have a positive impact on everyone he comes in contact with. 
TOTY High School Winner
Matthew Bundy, a 12th grade American government teacher at Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, Idaho, has been selected for its 2020 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the high school level. Bundy, sponsored by VFW Post 5423 in Mountain Home, Idaho, was chosen to represent the high school level for the innovation and passion he brings to his classroom, and for going above and beyond to encourage civic responsibility and activism in his students. A Lieutenant Colonel who served 20 years in the Air Force, Bundy’s military service offers invaluable insight when teaching his students about the attacks on 9/11, the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes, and the importance of their civic and community involvement.