Stories Out of School Fiction Contest

Teachers have the most fascinating, difficult, and important job on the planet, and their work days are filled with stories. Yet teachers seldom appear in fiction. This yearly contest, a joint venture of The Academy for Teachers and Tin House, was created to inspire honest, unsentimental stories about teachers and the rich and complex world of schools. There are two criteria for submissions. The story’s protagonist or its narrator has to be a teacher and the story has to be between 6 and 999 words. Karen Russell had the impossible task of choosing this year’s winners.

Submissions for the 2019 contest will be accepted in the fall of 2018.


2018 Winners

Read the winning stories online at Tin House.

Walker Rutter-Bowman, first prize for “Crafts”

Walker Rutter-Bowman taught third and fourth grade and was the lower-school librarian at The Brearley School. He received his MFA in fiction from Syracuse University and now lives in Ithaca, NY, where he is at work on his first collection of stories.

Emily Zdyrko, second prize for “I Often Tell People”

Emily Zdyrko is an English teacher at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and the Performing Arts. In her spare time she acquires shoes and degrees in English. A New York City native, she lives on the Upper West Side with Calypso, her semi-feral immigrant cat.

Santian Vataj, honorable mention for “The Fourth Sink”

Santian Vataj was born in the former Yugoslavia to Albanian parents and raised in the Bronx, where he currently teaches American history. He has previously published a short story which was included in The Writers Studio at 30 anthology and a poem in Prelude Magazine‘s website.

Devan Aptekar, honorable mention for “The Usurper”

Devan Aptekar teaches 8th-grade science at Tompkins Square Middle School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan after many years there as dean. A native New Yorker, he grew up by the beach in Brooklyn. While he has published more than 20 children’s books and loves teaching science, he is devoted to writing strange bittersweet novels.