Steve Darnell, a U.S. history teacher at Liberty High School, recently received the 2018 Yale Educator Award.
Nominated by former student, Christina Tuttle, the award recognizes teachers and counselors from around the world who inspire and support students.
The Yale University Class of 2022 were asked to nominate outstanding educators who have deeply influenced their lives.
Darnell was Tuttle’s AP U.S. history teacher and National Honor Society club advisor while she was at Liberty High School.
She said she received an email encouraging new students to nominate a teacher who had the most influence on their education.
For Tuttle, while it was difficult to choose among many great teachers, said she chose Darnell because of how he challenged students to think critically “rather than just memorize information.”
“On the first day of APUSH, Mr. Darnell called me a ‘sponge.’ While this may seem like an odd label, Mr. Darnell equated this kitchen cleaning aid to a certain type of student: someone who aims only to absorb information,” she said in her nomination. “Mr. Darnell was right—until that year, my only focus in school was achieving high grades, not truly learning. Yet, thanks to Mr. Darnell, my approach to education completely shifted.”
Tuttle said Darnell changed her mindset as a studen.
“Mr. Darnell’s high expectations motivated me to work harder, striving for goals I once thought unreachable,” she said. “Thanks to Mr. Darnell, I am no longer a ‘sponge.’ Now, I am an unstoppable critical thinker, confident in my ability to overcome any intellectual challenge I encounter.”
Through Tuttle’s nomination, the Yale Office of Undergraduate Admissions awarded Darnell with the 2018 Yale Educator Award.
Darnell received the award – a letter and engraved desk set.
He said he didn’t know there was such an award and much less didn’t expect to receive it.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ when I first got the email,” he said.
For Darnell, receiving the award serves as a testament to good teachers and how they can have a large influence on a student’s life.
“You know, as a teacher, you don’t always get to see how your teaching influences your students,” he said. “This just really reinforces what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”