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2014 NCSS Board of Directors Candidate Statements
Michael Boucher (Indiana)
As a Minneapolis Public Schools teacher for 18 years, Michael has taught all of the social studies, served as department chair and been a program coordinator. He has taught middle school, high school, online courses, adult diploma, GED, and social studies methods. Michael served as president of both the Minnesota and Indiana Councils for the Social Studies. As a state teacher/leader and former NCSS board member, he understands the commitment of continually advocating for social studies education. When the Minnesota Governor sought to implement a set of standards that specifically excluded NCSS and the Minnesota Council, Michael led MCSS to build a coalition that wrote an alternative set of standards, and then worked with legislators to pass them. When the same Governor tried to divide Minnesota social studies teachers into separate disciplines, MCSS fought to keep a single license.
In Indiana, Michael has worked to build coalitions with other curricular organizations and streamline the use of online technology for registration and membership. Under his leadership, membership has grown and new board members have been added. Michael continues to work on behalf of social studies education as a teacher educator and researcher at Indiana University School of Education in Indianapolis.
As the curriculum was narrowed and social studies marginalized under NCLB, teachers labored to bring authentic and meaningful citizen education to American students. Now that some of the most onerous provisions are being lifted, teachers are looking for guidance and advocacy in this new world of even more responsibility and accountability. For nearly one-hundred years, NCSS had continued to be the preeminent organization fighting for social studies teachers, and aiding them to be more effective in the classroom. Yet, with budgets squeezed and teacher salaries frozen, we have lost membership and attendance at conferences. Our State and regional affiliates are struggling to meet today’s challenges and create new opportunities for growth.
The future of NCSS is in the hands of young teachers who bring energy, curiosity and vitality to the organization. Along with professional development and advocacy, NCSS builds the next generation of leaders in the field. To shape a strong foundation, we should reach out to young teachers, mentoring them through personal contact, social media, and online tools. NCSS has a rich history of being on the forefront of support for teachers. Our challenge, going into the future, is to continue that tradition and form a new, lasting, legacy.
Bruce Damasio (Maryland)
I have been teaching since grade 9 when Mr.Code offered me a chance to teach a class on World War II. I was hooked then and there. A career that started in 1974 teaching middle school Civics in Maryland ultimately took me to Liberty High School where, in 2008, I ended as social studies department chairman and tennis coach. Along the way, I taught methods classes at a local college, and currently at Towson University where I also work with pre-service teachers. I have worked with groups such as TCI and The Bill of Rights Institute.
I was recognized as Maryland Social Studies teacher of the year in 2001 and by NCSS as national teacher of the year in 2002.
I have been involved with local, state and national leadership in social studies, as president of the Maryland council, as a two-terms member of the NCSS board and as president of GATE for 4 years from 2006-2009.
My travels around the nation and world doing workshops in economic education and teacher training since 2000 have helped me see broad ideas as well as specific issues in social studies.
If elected, my year and conference would be in Washington DC and there monuments abound. To me, monumental achievement takes time and people to meet that goal. These are worthy goals for my term, if elected as president of NCSS.
Teachers, the backbone of our system of education and NCSS need to be our goal: to become more involved, to be more aware of our goals, ability to help them in and out of the classroom, to be remembered by all of those "not in the classroom daily" of their importance and need to be supported in our common goal. To help our students progress within and beyond their abilities and evolve into active and learned consumers, producers, voters and citizens, we need to remember the roots of our field, the teacher in the classroom and work to support them even more, now and in the future. We want teachers to see NCSS meaning: New Chances in Social Studies or New Connections in Social Studies
To reach this goal, indeed is a monumental task and reward to strive for and it takes time.
Peggy Jackson (New Mexico)
Peggy’s parents modeled equal treatment to all, influencing her as a teacher, wife, mom, and grandmother. Her passion to learn earned her a James Madison Fellowship resulting in an MA in Political Science. Experiences in NMCSS enabled her election to HOD Steering in Chicago, and she sat as HOD Chair of Steering in San Diego in its first inclusion of Communities and Associated Groups. As Chair of the BOD Audit Committee, she saw us grow as an organization with financial struggles to one with positive net assets. On the committee for Rho Kappa, she helped create its policies. She works to strengthen FASSE and as a member of the Executive Committee and Finance Committee, she saw NCSS as an organization add an investment firm and envisions its addition of “planned giving.” As a Madison Fellow at Georgetown, she came at its conclusion to her first NCSS Summer Leadership, and this summer after its absence, saw SLI restored! She presents nationally as an NBCT, supports candidates in her state, developed curriculum for Our Courts, now iCivics, has taught AP U.S. Government, Macroeconomics, We The People, and is NM Teacher of the Year, 2010. Peggy will be a strong asset for NCSS!
Social Studies educators today see the marginalization of our curriculum nationwide. Who will vote for Congress in a few years when we have not taught the efficacy of voting and the importance of deliberative democracy? Having advocated for many years on the Hill and in her state, Peggy understands that NCSS must be the loudest voice to our law-makers in our states and nationally with specific anecdotal and statistical data! Peggy’s strongest passion focuses on the U.S. Constitution and fighting for civic education to be kept at the fore. She will speak to policy-makers and lead our organization by making this statement: “Our nation must build citizens who understand where we came from as a people.” We must provide data to show how our schools are focusing more on reading and math and leaving out geography, history, and civics. We need a bigger sample of NAEP data disaggregated by state to show our loss, and we must advocate and keep our vision alive or lose the democratic principles on which this nation was built. We must train teachers to use our C3 framework and engage our pre-service teachers by providing more online resources and initiating more unconference experiences for them.
Middle Level Classroom Teacher
Jennifer Morgan (Wisconsin)
As a third generation educator, I learned from my mother and grandmother the importance of life long learning, professional development, and loving what one does! I have spent my entire twenty-one year teaching career meeting the challenges and excitement of working with middle school students. I earned my BS from UW-Platteville and a ME from UW-La Crosse. In addition to my work in the classroom, I spent four years working in the curriculum department as the middle school instructional coach where my main duties included implementing the building's professional development opportunities and working to assist teachers in meeting the requirements of RtI. I have also taught the elementary and middle school social studies methods course at Viterbo University. I have served on the Wisconsin CSS Board of Directors for the past seven years; four in leadership positions as president elect and president. At the national level, I have served on the Resolutions Committee for HOD and the awards committee, co-chaired a community, and presented several sessions. I discovered my love of Civil War history while researching my own family’s involvement in the conflict. I enjoy traveling and have recently completed a Hayes-Fulbright to China.
The challenges faced by NCSS and the social studies professions are threefold. First, we must be prepared for today’s educational atmosphere; a time when the emphasis is being placed on core academic areas being supplemented with common core or state standards. NCSS must prepare its membership and other educational professionals to actively advocate for the importance of social studies education, at all levels, in creating engaged citizens to lead in an increasingly globalized world. Second, we must work to help elementary educators see the value of social studies education in order to slow the increasing marginalization of the discipline at the elementary level. Third, is the need for NCSS to continue to focus its membership efforts on expanding to nontraditional groups, namely pre-service educators, elementary educators and those representing minority communities within the educational profession. With these groups in mind, NCSS needs to utilize the talent within both its Board of Directors and its general membership to serve as mentors to new educators looking for ideas to utilize within their classrooms. To accomplish this, NCSS, its communities, and state/affiliated groups need to utilize new and innovative ways to reach out to these young educators beyond the annual conference.
Joseph Karb (New York)
As a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher for fifteen years in Springville, New York, I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of students. Throughout that time, I have encouraged my students to interact with history through active learning, critical thinking, and by making connections between the past and present. My classroom projects have been featured nationally in social studies research studies, PBS Newshour and in 2012 I was honored with the NYSCSS and NCSS Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award. In addition to my teaching duties, I am a Senior Fellow at C-SPAN, the Director of Education for the Robert H. Jackson Center, and the creator and co-coordinator of the Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Video Contest sponsored by the RFK Center, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Tribeca Film Institute. As a member of the NYS Content Advisory Panel, I have helped write and revise the new social studies framework for New York. Being a social studies educator is a career I truly enjoy and it is my hope that my students will use what they have learned to make the world a better place.
While there are several issues I am interested in as a teacher, the marginalization of social studies is the most significant issue our profession is facing today. For many years, the engine for public education was the need to prepare young people to be educated, engaged, and ethical citizens. Democracy by its nature requires an informed electorate and social studies was always central to this goal; however, today we are facing a time when social studies is becoming an academic stepchild with civics education no longer a national priority. Changing this trajectory will be challenging and must include educating both the public and our members by lobbying at the local, state and national levels, grassroots advocacy though at all levels of our organization, and continuing to disseminate high quality teaching materials. If chosen to serve, it would be my highest priority.
Linda Bennett (Missouri)
Linda Bennett is an Assistant in the Provost Office at the University of Missouri. In 2011-12, Dr. Bennett served as American Council on Education Fellow at the University of North Carolina system. She previously served in the College of Education as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Coordinator of Social Studies Education. Dr. Bennett has had fellowships in Japan, Bulgaria and Germany. Bennett was selected as the editor for Social Studies and the Young Learner, winning the Association of Educational Publishers Award in 2008 and served on the Advisory Board for Theory and Research in Social Education. She has served on the NCSS Technology Committee, Awards Committee, and Teacher Education Committee and as a member of the House of Delegates. Dr. Bennett has given over 90 presentations around the world and has more than 35 international and national publications. She served as the President of the Missouri Council for the Social Studies, board member for the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and is an inaugural inductee into the University of Memphis Education Hall of Fame. She earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of Northern Colorado and Masters of Education from the University of Memphis.
Advocacy for social studies as the “common core” is the most significant issue confronting social studies education. For as long as most of us have been educators, social studies has been chipped away and disenfranchised from our schools and our society. If we are truly dedicated to the advancement of a culturally diverse, technologically oriented society and increasingly interdependent world we must make informed decisions to promote democracy and the “common good” of our country and the world. By bringing institutions, organizations and agencies together, we can generate knowledge about the issues and collectively contribute to solutions. It means negotiating pathways to change for parents, students, legislators, school boards and the media to be empowered to speak out and collaborate as informed citizens who care about the education of our children. Each of us has the opportunity and potential to advocate for quality social studies education in schools, communities, states and the nation by excelling as a social studies educator and taking action on behalf of our profession. The NCSS Board is obligated to take the lead in advocacy so I would take on the challenge and turn it into an opportunity to lead.
Ted Green (Missouri)
Ted D. R. Green, Ph.D. is an associate professor and department chair in the Teacher Education Department, School of Education at Webster University. Green is the past president and current board member of the Missouri Council for the Social Studies and serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Council for History Education. He serves on the National Planning Committee for the 2013 NCSS Conference in St. Louis. Green has also served as a consultant on more than 5 TAH Grants and works with the National Park Service training park rangers. He has worked for NCHE for the past ten years.
Green’s work with History scholars and Master Teachers throughout the United States has been rewarding, not only in personal connections, but has provided new insights into our nation’s history, geography and local communities.
He teaches social studies, living history and social science courses to graduate and undergraduate students. Each summer he teaches a field study methods course in Colonial Williamsburg. Green has been working for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for over fifteen years, writing curriculum and training teachers. Currently Green is working on publications of his research findings at nine Living History Museums in the U. S.
The state of civic engagement in Social Studies has been problematic for some time now. We are less civic minded and have difficulty engaging in local, state, national and international issues for the good of human kind.
Technology has been a great facilitator for civic engagement, delivered at light speed, but as a society we seem even less engaged than a decade ago. We are truly in the Information Age where our greatest problem becomes, “What data do we pay attention to and what do we automatically filter out ?” I would like to see more students, teachers, administrators and parents engaged in and out of the classroom on local issues that impact them in their communities, yet can be applied to the global arena.
Global warming, sustainability, cultural pluralism and world issues are all ripe for civic engagement and problem solving. Helping our students see that they can take action, and that their local, state and national representatives will listen to them will be the best life lesson to keep them engaged throughout life. Knowing that they are a stakeholder in our world is a wonderful way to integrate service learning and practice civic competence for an educated citizenry.
K-12 Classroom Teacher At-Large
Leslie Carter (South Carolina)
I am the proud product of teachers, English, Social Studies and Physical Education. Like most budding History teachers, I grew up hearing inspirational stories from the classroom and touring historic sites. I loved civics, government and being a part of the political process; and thus I went to college majoring in Political Science. Thirteen years ago, I attended my first NCSS conference in Washington, DC while I was a graduate student.
In 2005 as a first year teacher at Myrtle Beach High School, I had many challenges learning the real world of teaching. I worked hard at finding engaging lessons while learning the latest district and state initiatives. My peers validated my efforts in the third of teaching by electing me Teacher of the Year. I continue to work hard to improve my level of skill and technique in the classroom by participating in as many professional development trainings possible. Currently I am the President of our state council which has approximately 800 members. I have presented at both the National and State level conferences. As a NBCT and a member of NSSSA, I have seen that success is paved by constantly seeking advice from others and working collaboratively.
We all know the phrase, “what is tested, is taught”. While I cannot attribute this quote it to any one person in particular, it is a reality teachers face on a daily basis. With the coming of Common Core and the pressures from our state and local areas, teachers know this fact all too well. We also see time on Social Studies content shrinking, which saddens me because we teach the fun, cool and exciting topics!
Great things are occurring every day in Social Studies classrooms around the country. We need to share this with our elected officials by working with them and lobbing about the need for more funding in Social Studies in general. As teachers, it is significant that we be a part of the civic action piece and not just to teach it. We must model civic engagement in order to achieve more within our own classroom. I would place emphasis on building community relations with government officials and showcasing the amazing efforts in classrooms.
We need to encourage more chapters of the already successful Rho Kappa. I feel like this is a great opportunity for students and would continue NCSS's efforts to expand this student association.
Ruth King (Utah)
I received my degree from Brigham Young University (including a 1st-8th Grade Teaching Certificate), and I’m now in my 28th year of teaching. In 2011, I received the Utah Council for the Social Studies Elementary Teacher of the Year Award, and then, that December, I was honored with the NCSS Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year Award. The following year I was named the National Council for Geographic Education Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award for 2012.
Throughout my teaching career, I have served, and continue to serve, in many leadership roles and levels: district, state, regional, and national. I was a member of the Utah Social Studies Core Revision Committee for 3rd-6th grades in 2008, followed by my role as a facilitator to create an online resource bank to support that core curriculum. Besides being a grade level curriculum team leader in my school, I am also currently serving as a member of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Mentor Advisory Group, and as secretary of the Utah Geographic Alliance. I am also a master teacher and in-service trainer for Alpine School District’s Teaching American History Grant, which we have had for the past eight years.
Throughout my career I have advocated for Social Studies in a variety of ways. First, my commitment to teaching Social Studies has included the integration of Common Core ELA standards. Second is my involvement in professional organizations that promote excellent Social Studies teaching, such as NCSS. Third, advocating for improved support for Social Studies has been accomplished by publicizing the great things that are being done in many classrooms across the district and state. Identifying and informing those in authority of the need for greater support of Social Studies in our schools will continue to be my focus.
I have organized informational round-tables with my state's Senatorial staff on behalf of Social Studies. For example, Utah's First Lady has participated in Social Studies related school and district programs. With community awareness, more support will be given for continued excellence in teaching Social Studies at all levels. Such connections could be elevated to the national level.
My broad background as an elementary teacher, Master Teacher for secondary teachers in our district's TAH grant, plus the many conference sessions I've led for all grade levels, has enhanced my understanding of the issues and needs for the K-12 Teacher At-Large Board position.
Tina Heafner (North Carolina)
Tina L. Heafner began her career in social studies education over twenty-two years ago. As a high school teacher, she was recognized as teacher of the year and selected as a member of the athletic hall of fame for coaching three state championship teams. Tina holds advanced licensure in middle grades and secondary social studies and is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is an active member of the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies and former member of the state Board of Directors. At the national level, Tina served as an ex officio member of the NCSS Board of Directors, the NCSS Citizenship Committee, and the NCSS House of Delegates (HOD) Steering Committee. As Chair of the HOD Steering Committee, she led the expansion of the HOD beyond state organizations to include NCSS Affiliated Groups (e.g. CUFA), and NCSS Communities as voting members of the NCSS House of Delegates. At NCSS Summer Leadership Institutes she engaged colleagues in presentations promoting social studies advocacy through legislative processes and unified organizational presence. Tina serves on the CUFA Executive Board and has co-authored content area literacy books such as Targeted Vocabulary Strategies for Secondary Social Studies.
I believe there are two major issues confronting social studies: first, the importance of social studies as a core and essential content area, and second, the professional role of social studies teachers in educating our future citizenry. As a primary research interest, I have published with colleagues numerous articles examining ongoing marginalization of social studies in an attempt to 1) document this trend through large-scale and qualitative studies, and 2) to explore how policy decisions have impacted the state of social studies. My hope is that with data-based evidence greater awareness of the diminishing role of social studies can become widespread among the general populace and be used through grassroots initiatives to reverse the devaluing of social studies by policy-makers. NCSS, state councils, and affiliated groups are of upmost importance in leading this advocacy campaign. Of even greater importance is the undervalued work of social studies teachers and the policies that have led to workplace intensification. Teacher autonomy and professionalism are predictors of the opportunity students have to learn social studies. For students to experience success in a culturally-rich and equitable manner, the value of professionals, like those who are members of NCSS, needs to be a national organizational focus.
Shannon Pugh (Maryland)
Shannon Pugh spent her childhood in Alaska, Louisiana, and California before completing high school and college in Texas. Her first teaching position was in rural Mississippi where she taught middle school science and social studies. After three years in Mississippi, Shannon returned to Texas and taught sheltered (ESOL) world geography, AP World History, and AP Macroeconomics at W.T. White High School in Dallas ISD. While in Dallas she became involved with the Dallas Council for the Social Studies and served as both the secretary and president. During her time with the Dallas Council her main focus was providing professional learning and networking opportunity for DISD social studies teachers. While in Texas, Shannon earned National Board Certification in Adult Young Adolescent Social Studies and was the high school finalist for DISD’s Teacher of the Year. Shannon currently works in Annapolis, Maryland where she is the Secondary Social Studies Teacher Specialist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She presents at local, state, and national conferences where her primary focus is on world history and other global topics. She is active in local historical organizations and served as the Co-Chair of the 2012 NCSS National Conference in Washington D.C.
For at least the last decade we saw language arts and math test prep replace the rigor and relevance traditionally found in social studies classrooms. Administrators asked social studies teachers how social studies could support language arts test scores. As the next decade of the 21st century continues we need to change the question from how can social studies and other courses support reading and math scores to how can reading and math work with social studies teachers to prepare our students to tackle our real local, national, and global problems? As candidates for political office refer to education as a “civil rights' issue” we must remind educators and the public that the teaching of social studies itself is the civil rights' issue. Our current system ensures that students from specific backgrounds never learn about civic engagement and how to be citizens of the world. If this continues, then we as a nation are ensuring that the civil rights of many of our students will never be realized. It is up to us as professionals and an organization to embark on our own campaign to raise awareness and lead our own campaign on social studies as a civil right.