The Bechtel Prize

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.


2023 Bechtel Prize Submission Guidelines

T&W is now accepting submissions of essays describing a creative writing teaching experience, project, or activity that demonstrates innovation in creative writing instruction. 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  • Essays must be previously unpublished and under 2,500 words.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 Submittable.com.  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 extended submission deadline for the 2023 Bechtel Prize is February 10, 2023.   

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


Previous winners of the Bechtel Prize

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”