The Bechtel Prize

T&W is now accepting submissions for the 2024 Bechtel Prize, judged by Garth Greenwell. Each year the Teachers & Writers Magazine editorial board awards the Bechtel Prize and a $1,000 honorarium for an essay describing a creative writing teaching experience, project, or activity that demonstrates innovation in creative writing instruction. 

The Bechtel Prize is named for Louise Seaman Bechtel, who was an editor, author, collector of children’s books, and teacher. In 1919, Bechtel became the first person to lead a juvenile book department at an American publishing house. Bechtel helped establish the field of children’s literature and was a tireless advocate for the importance of literature in children’s lives. This award honors her legacy.

2024 Bechtel Prize Submission Guidelines

We are looking for essays that describe a project or activity that got students excited about writing and fostered a vibrant and dynamic culture of literacy in the classroom. We welcome essays about projects that carved a space for students to reflect on the events of the past year (eg. public health, remote learning, social justice, etc.). The experience/project/activity should be one that:

  • helped students identify as writers
  • opened new pathways to creative writing
  • engaged students in all parts of the writing process
  • promoted connections between reading and writing
  • supported the publication of student writing

The essay itself should:

  • Share actual classroom experience, including how students engaged with the project (in other words, this should not be a planned project but one that has already taken place).
  • Focus on the classroom experience and what makes it innovative.
  • Focus on teaching creative writing (eg. poetry, fiction, playwriting). Please do not send essays that have to do with teaching academic writing or teaching literature in general.

The essay selected to receive the Bechtel Prize will be published in Teachers & Writers Magazine, and the author will receive a $1,000 award.

Submission Guidelines

  • Essays must be previously unpublished and under 2,500 words. They should include a cover page with the essay title, author’s name, e-mail address, phone number, and a brief bio (no more than 150 words).
  • Send submissions in Word or PDF format via Submittable.
  • Submissions will be judged anonymously. The author’s name and address must not appear anywhere on the essay.
  • Authors of the Bechtel Prize winning essay and finalists must permit T&W to publish their essays in Teachers & Writers Magazine. T&W reserves the right to edit essays for publication.

Submissions that do not conform to the above guidelines will not be reviewed for the Bechtel Prize. Submissions are only being accepted through  Please do not email submissions. Selection criteria for the Bechtel Prize include the proposal’s relevance and appropriateness for readers of Teachers & Writers Magazine, most of whom teach writing at the elementary, secondary, or postsecondary level. Teachers & Writers Magazine publishes work that is concise, lively, and geared to a general audience. Prospective entrants for the Bechtel Prize are encouraged to visit the magazine to become familiar with the work of Teachers & Writers and to read past winners of the award. The submission deadline for the 2023 Bechtel Prize is January 12, 2024.   

Questions regarding these guidelines may be sent to Please do not send submissions by email.

2024 Judge Garth Greenwell

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book of fiction, Cleanness, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, the L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize, and France’s Prix Sade (Deuxième sélection). A new novel, Small Rain, is forthcoming from FSG in 2024. Greenwell is also the co-editor, with R.O. Kwon, of the anthology KINK, which appeared in February 2021, was named a New York Times Notable Book, won the inaugural Joy Award from the #MarginsBookstore Collective, and became a national bestseller. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and VICE, and he has written nonfiction for The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and Harper’s, among others. He writes regularly about literature, film, art and music for his Substack, To a Green Thought. He is the recipient of many honors for his work, including a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2021 Vursell Award for prose style from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Greenwell currently lives in New York, where he is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at NYU.

Previous winners of the Bechtel Prize

2023 – William Camponovo – “You Must Change Your Life: Demystifying and Remystifying Poetry in the Classroom”

2022 – Shilpi Suneja – “Multilingual Approaches Toward English Prose”

2021 – Paola Capó-García – “Making Sense of It All: High School Poetry in the Age of Zoom”

2020 – Amy Young – “Jibseria: A Garden Mythology”

2019 – Emily James – “At First, the Ground Shakes”

2018 – Julie Landsman – “Words, Images, and Music: How We Enter”

2017 – M.K. Rainey – “I Hate Writing: On the Necessity of Being Vulnerable”

2016 – Christian McEwen – “Alastair Reid: Traveling Light”

2013 – Chris Belden – “Inside Words: How to Teach Writing in Prison”

2012 – Barbara Flug Colin – “Now Let’s Stare at the Purple”

2011 – Janet L. Bland – “The Possum”

2010 – Garth Greenwell – “A Native Music: Writing the City in Sofia, Bulgaria”

2009 – Emily Raboteau – “A Slip into the Breaks: Teaching Jazz Poetry”

2008 – Michael Bazzett – “Within Words: Making Students at Home in the Language of Literature”

2007 – Anna Sopko – “Writing Standards: Finding One’s Way with Words”