Department of Defense Education Activity

Dr. Tricia Surinak, History Teacher of the Year

SEMBACH, GERMANY — August 4, 2022 — Department of Defense Education Activity History Teacher of the YearDr. Tricia Surinak, a teacher at Ansbach Middle/High School in Germany, has been named the Department of Defense Education Activity History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

“Dr. Surinak is an extraordinary educator, she finds unique and creative ways of bringing the subject of history alive for her students,” said Mr. Steve Sanchez, community superintendent for DoDEA-Europe’s East District. “She is truly deserving of this honor. Ansbach MHS students are fortunate to have such an outstanding teacher.  We are all incredibly proud of her!”

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the 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 recognition of his achievement, Surinak received a $1,000 honorarium, and Ansbach M/HS School receives a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials.

About Tricia Surinak

Surinak holds a doctorate from Florida International University in Human Resource Development and Adult Education, two masters’ degrees from Florida Atlantic University in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations of Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. 

She also has been a National Board Certified Teacher since 2000 and the 2018 DoDEA Europe East Teacher of the Year.

“I LOVE dead people!” is how Dr. Tricia Surinak introduces herself to her history students at the beginning of the school year.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her students often comment that until they came to her classroom, they did not like history.  However, they now LOVE it.  Dr. Surinak believes that education should be fun and interjects humor to make the dusty pages of history come alive.  

Dr. Surinak empowers students to take ownership and pride in their work by maintaining a rigorous curriculum, high expectations, engaging lessons, and cheering each student onto success.  Meeting her students with a smile, she creates a welcoming environment where students feel safe and encouraged to take academic risks, promoting growth and maturation.  

Not only does Dr. Surinak enjoy working with students, but she also creates opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, changing the culture of the school to one that fosters professionalism and relationship building.  Currently, Dr. Surinak teaches AP US History, US History, Economics, American Democracy and Civics, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Ansbach Middle High School.   

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Now celebrating its 25th year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education, while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 70,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the institute provides teachers, students and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. More information is available at   

About DoDEA

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for school-age children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the United States that serve children of military families.