Al Hunt and Timothy Dougherty of Archmere Academy, nominating teacher of Patrick Reilly, first-place winner of the 2012 Profile in Courage Essay Contest.

“The stories of past courage . . . can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.” John F. Kennedy


Teachers play an essential role in the Profile in Courage Essay Contest. Each student participant must have a “nominating teacher” who provides support and advice during the research and writing process. Nominating teachers are asked to proofread students’ essays, make suggestions for improvement, and ensure that the essays meet the contest requirements. The first-place winner and her/his nominating teacher will be invited to receive awards at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

Many teachers use the contest as a class project and submit the essays of an entire class. We invite you to use the four lessons in Curriculum Ideas for the Classroom to introduce your students to John F. Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage and the concept of political courage. We hope these materials will help you guide your students in the research and writing of their essays. Several of the following activities meet National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) Standards and The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards for the English Language Arts.

By registering for the mailing list you will receive information and updates about the contest.

We encourage you to submit feedback to help us improve the program and find ways to best serve your needs.

You can access archival film footage from the Kennedy years, listen to reflections on political courage by Profile in Courage Award recipients, and hear excerpts from past winning essays by viewing a video on the Profile in Courage Essay Contest.