The NCSS Board of Directors has approved the following slate of candidates for the 2019-2020 Board of Directors and Officer elections. The election ballot will open November 25, 2019 and close January 15, 2020. NCSS members in good standing as of October 15, 2019 are eligible to vote, and will receive instructions and credentials by email for accessing the online ballots starting November 25, 2019.
Each nominee was asked to submit a photograph, a 200-word biographical sketch, and a 200-word position statement. These items are presented here and the text is unedited, except for changes to conform to a standard format.
Terms for candidates elected will begin July 1, 2020. The candidate elected as Vice-President will be in line to become NCSS President on July 1, 2022.
High stakes testing has taken a serious toll on our education system. Testing and data-driven decisions pervade our classrooms regularly. District and state assessments focus on literacy, math, and science and rarely social studies. As a result, social studies remains an under-served area in many K-6 state curriculum standards. Too often social studies in those age groups relies on minimal exposure through the literacy programs. Frequently, social studies in upper grades is taught as rote memorization of facts and trivia. Inquiry, on the other hand, brings past and present social studies problems into the classroom and encourages students to engage, question, and comprehend the nuances of civic life. Students who inquire become vital participants in our communities. Our students must also develop an understanding of the part social studies plays in the fabric of their daily lives as the process of globalization continues to expand worldwide connectivity and requires awareness, acceptance, and tolerance of other peoples and cultures. Teachers need access to timely, appropriate resources and professional development to achieve these goals. NCSS is the organization to lead the way.
Shannon Pugh has been an educator for 25 years. She began teaching in rural Mississippi where she taught social studies and science and then moved to Dallas, TX where she taught AP World History, AP Art History, and AP European History as well as Sheltered (ESOL) World Geography. While in Dallas, she was a member of the Texas Council for the Social Studies and served as Secretary and President of the Dallas Council. She also became one of the first three social studies teachers in Texas to earn National Board Certification. Currently, she works in the Division of Curriculum and Instruction in Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, MD. She continues to teach high school social studies courses in alternative education settings, and she is an adjunct faculty member at McDaniel College where she teaches courses in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In 2011, she served as co-chair for the NCSS Washington DC National Conference. She currently is a member of the NCSS Board of Directors where she also serves on the Executive Board and she also is a member of the MD Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors. She holds an Ed.D. from the University of Maryland.
As NCSS prepares to celebrate our centennial, we face unique challenges. First, we need to be THE place teachers go for support. We need to ensure that with a click of a key, our members have high-quality resources that promote professional learning as well as timely and easy to modify lessons that align with standards and reflect best practices in our field. Second, we must continue to expand our advocacy toolbox to ensure that our members have the resources they need to advocate for a strong social studies program in principal offices, in Board of Education meetings, in county and city planning rooms, and in civic meeting forums. If all politics are local, then we must support local action. Finally, we need to help support our teachers in doing what might be the most important work of our generation – being the facilitators of civility. No other content area is better equipped to teach empathy, inclusion, civil discourse, social justice, media literacy, and civic action than the social studies. By promoting the benefits of a strong social studies experience for the betterment of our society we can help restore the social studies to the cornerstone of an educated populace.
Alexander Cuenca is Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana University and Program Coordinator of the Middle and Secondary Social Studies Education Program. His research focuses on the preparation of social studies teachers, teacher learning during field experiences, and teacher education policy. He began his career in education as a middle school social studies teacher in Miami, Florida and earned his doctorate in Social Studies Education from the University of Georgia. As a member of NCSS, he has served as the Chair of the Task Force that developed the National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers; Chair of the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA); authored the NCSS response to the Ferguson uprising, and is currently the Co-Chair of the Task Force on Inquiry in Social Studies Education. Alexander is also a member of the executive board of the Indiana Council for the Social Studies.
In a politically polarized civic climate, social studies education is at a critical tipping point. Despite the wealth of knowledge that exists in social studies content areas to help students directly address issues of injustice, inequity, and discrimination, educators have been forced to distance their teaching from the realities that suppress fundamental human rights. As the National Council for the Social Studies, we must provide social studies educators with the institutional sanction to challenge contemporary impulses that produce distinctions, obstruct equity, and circumvent the conventions of a just democracy. Our organization must position social studies education as an effort to expand views on humanity and cultivate children, youth and adolescents capable of resisting challenges to our multicultural democracy. As a board member, I seek to help the National Council for Social Studies articulate a vision of what kind of social studies we are willing to stand for. In doing so, I hope to help our organization become the leader in the national conversation on the value of social studies education and the importance of social studies educators.
Throughout my career I have been an elementary educator, teacher educator, and now an administrator. Like my mother, however, I will always identify as a teacher. My current role is Associate Professor and Department Chair of Educational Technology and Foundations at the University of West Georgia. I am heavily involved in NCSS, serving on the leadership team of the Early Childhood and Elementary special interest group writing position statements and advocating for the field. I have served as the program chair for CUFA, was a founding member of the Septima Clark book award, served for six years on the Carter G Woodson selection committee and currently serve on the Notable Trade Books committee.
My recent book, It’s Being Done in Social Studies: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in the Pre/K-12 Curriculum was written primarily by teachers highlighting how actual teachers are tackling these issues in their K-12 classrooms. This topic is not just professional, it is personal. My wife and I are foster and adoptive parents. It is important to me that our transracial family be represented in schools and social studies curriculum, and that all students practice critical thinking and civic engagement in schools.
As a board member I will advocate for the broadening of voices at the table. Through collaborations among stakeholders NCSS has the opportunity to model civic discourse and engagement while continuing to advocate for the field. Integration of diverse viewpoints and subject matters is the hallmark of social studies. We need to capitalize upon the diversity and inclusivity within the field. The most important stakeholders are teachers and their voices need to be privileged in the organization. A stated goal of social studies teacher education is to “prepare learners to be advocates for an inclusive and equitable society”. If we expect teacher educators and teachers to support learners for this role, the board of NCSS needs to model these practices as well.
Social studies education is vital; it provides a window for students to see and understand multiple perspectives and complicated, nuanced histories. Social studies should also provide a mirror for students to see themselves as agents of change, capable of advocating for a better society. There are many current movements among our students that can be held up as those mirrors. The Board can capitalize on the powerful voices of our youth, inviting them to the table; as much could be learned from these untapped stakeholders.
Middle Level Classroom Teacher
I am in my 21st year of teaching at the middle level and have seen many changes in education in my tenure. As a board member of the Colorado Council for the Social Studies for the last six years, I have served on the conference planning committee, created and maintained a new web page, and have been responsible for membership lists and newsletters. This year I am our Council’s vice president. I have been a part of the House of Delegates for five years and was on the Steering Committee the last three, serving as chair last year. As your Middle Level Classroom Teacher representative, I will continue to represent middle level students and teachers and our unique place in education. I am excited to work with the new middle level Rho Kappa committee and hope to start a chapter at my school. Equity of access for all students as well as overcoming the achievement gap are at the top of my priority list and I my work on the board will continue that focus.
The issue that I feel is the most important to social studies education is also the foundation of all education, the creation of a populace that is educated and can reason in order to make informed decisions. Starting at the elementary level and lasting a lifetime, citizenship and the participation in democracy is at the core of why we exist as educators. The ability to participate in civic discourse is so important and sometimes seems to be missing these days. In order to be engaged citizens, students need to be able to analyze the issues to understand them and advocate for themselves and others. Educating citizens is at the core of our discipline: understanding bias, analyzing sources, supporting our beliefs with evidence, working with others, it is what we do! It allows us to work across disciplines and to work civilly with others who may differ from us. We are “A republic, if we can teach it!”
Thank you for taking the time to read about candidates for NCSS Board of Directors, and being committed to advancing this organization dedicated to my favorite subject. This is my 22nd year as a Social Studies teacher to middle grades students and I can honestly see myself teaching another 22 years. (Well, maybe!) These kids are so dynamic and it’s a joy to invigorate and empower them to make the world a better place. My commitment to Social Studies is why I want to serve you on the board and it’s a role I’m already involved in with the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies and Minnesota Council for History Education. I was part of the 2011 revamping of Minnesota’s Social Studies Standards and instrumental in changing them to better serve middle grades teachers and students. I’m also an adjunct professor of pre-service middle grades teachers and bring them into my classroom every chance I get. I’ve been honored with a few awards over the years including 2016 Middle Grades NCSS Teacher of the Year, 2014 Magnet Schools of America Teacher of the Year, and several statewide teaching awards. To read more look me up on LinkedIn or at www.RonHustvedt.com.
Our national neglect of civic education and the Social Studies subjects is evident with each passing day. The very survival of our republic is at stake. We need bold representation on the NCSS board who aspire to make real the lofty dreams of our membership while maintaining a solid ground game. I’d like to help recruit a more representative membership, elevate those underrepresented voices, and then get out of the way. There is a tremendous disconnect across all facets of the Social Studies world and we will only achieve our goals for solid-footing by working together. Let’s rebuild the partnerships between our K-12 members and Higher Education members. Let’s continue building connections and partnerships with other national subject area and pedagogical organizations so others can realize what we already know—Social Studies is everywhere. Let us create the demand for our expertise and unique insights with passionate advocacy for our subject area while also demonstrating to others how they can, and do, inject civic education in their practice. Social Studies educators at the state affiliate level need to be supported and empowered by the national organization to have these conversations in the staff room, the school board, and state Legislatures.
Gustavo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Child and grandchild of immigrants, he has always been fascinated by migration and urban history. He moved to
New York where he studied the history of trans-Atlantic migration and volunteered to work with newly arrived immigrants. He earned a B.A. in History from Columbia University and an M.A. in Teaching American History and Government from Ashland University. He also did additional graduate work in Latin American and Latino History at Rutgers University. Over the course of his career, he has worked at three independent schools in a variety of capacities including coordinating a middle school history program, coordinating diversity and inclusiveness programs, and as chair of the History and Social Sciences Department at Buckingham Browne and Nichols. Currently, Gustavo is the Head of Upper School at Shore Country Day School in Massachusetts where he teaches European History to 7th graders. Since the beginning of his teaching career, Gustavo has committed himself to teach social studies to promote the development of intercultural competencies and global citizenship. Gustavo is married to Sara Kate, a physics teacher, and he is the father of two, Emilia and Camila. Gustavo received the NCSS Award Teaching for Global Understanding.
In his prescient 1992 article “Jihad vs. McWorld,” Benjamin Barber provides a grim forecast of the political landscape of the 21st century in which he represents ethnic tribalism and globalism as two compelling but anti-democratic alternatives, and he calls us all to find and promote democracy. We undeniably live in a multiethnic, multicultural, and increasingly global society, and in recent years, we just as undeniably have experienced the re-emergence of ethno-nationalist movements. In order to prepare all students for membership in our participatory democracy, it is imperative that schools prepare them to understand these complexities without arriving at predetermined conclusions. Preparing citizens requires an introduction to civics and to the complex historical dynamics of our political institutions and our unique history, which we need to celebrate so that students identify with the founding values of our nation. But, more importantly, students must also understand the multiplicity of voices in our society, which does not undermine the national story. Yet social studies also need to be the intellectual space where students discuss and identify with the common good. Therefore, we must continue to embrace the C3 Framework and the best practices it promotes.
Tim Constant is the Manager of Education Outreach at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Michigan. Prior to his current position, Tim was a Social Studies teacher and department chair for 11 years before becoming a school administrator. He has received numerous teaching awards including Outstanding Teacher of the Year and was nominated for Michigan Teacher of the Teacher and Charter School Teacher of the Year. Tim currently is pursuing his doctorate in education from the University of Michigan Dearborn and has a Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies and English Language Arts from the university. He also has a master’s from Walsh College and a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence Technological University. He is a board member for the Association for Constructivist Teaching and for the University of Michigan Dearborn Alumni Society. He recently was a judge for the 2019 Michigan History Day and has presented workshops twice for the Michigan Council for the Social Studies annual conference. He recently received the 2019 Different Maker Alumnus of the Year from the University of Michigan Dearborn and his work developing a Holocaust and genocide education outreach program in Michigan was recognized with the Michigan Museums Association 2019 Outreach Programming Award.
Social Studies is often marginalized to make room for an increased focus on literacy and numeracy. What school/district officials and policy makers do not understand is that a strong Social Studies education that focuses on inquiry, informed action, agency, advocacy and activism leads to a better society through more informed citizens. Social Studies is often viewed as the “soft” skills in a curriculum; however, I disagree. Social Studies teaches life skills through inquiry and develops more informed citizens that will then act on that knowledge to implement necessary and important change. A component of this narrowing of the Social Studies curriculum and increased levels of accountability driven by state and national testing is a trend towards scripted curriculum. Scripted Social Studies curriculum is often used in schools that are considered failing or at-risk and have difficulties attracting and retaining qualified teachers. However, what a scripted Social Studies curriculum does is further narrow the curriculum and marginalizes the teachers and students. I believe it is the responsibility of NCSS to advocate for the importance and value of Social Studies and to fight against the narrowing and scripting of curriculum which marginalizes Social Studies.
Tina M. Ellsworth currently serves as the K-12 Social Studies Coordinator for Olathe Public Schools in Olathe, KS where she oversees content specific professional development, curriculum development/revision, resource adoption, etc. for all social studies teachers in grades K-12. Ellsworth holds a B.S. in Social Studies Education, a M.A. in History, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on social studies education. She has been an educator for 16 years in which she taught middle and high school social studies, served as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, supervised pre-service teachers, served as a senior economic education specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and in her current role. She served as president for the Missouri Council for the Social Studies, started the Kansas University Council for the Social Studies, and coordinated her district’s first Rho Kappa chapter! She presents at state and national conferences, and has served on state and NCSS committees. She is also published in Social Education and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Ellsworth lives in Missouri with her husband Jeremy, her daughter Emerson, and her son Lincoln.
Building an active and engaged citizenry is a main purpose of a high-quality social studies education. As its teachers, we long to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions that serve the public good and preserve our democracy. We long to empower them to engage not just on Election Day, but in other meaningful ways, at any age. One of the best ways to do that is to model it ourselves at the classroom, school, community, state or national level. It’s one thing to teach the C3; it’s another thing to live it. This advocacy may result in action in your classroom by interrogating your own positionality and employing culturally relevant pedagogical practices; it may be pulling a colleague towards greater equity and inclusion in curricular choices; it may be educating administrators about restorative justice in discipline practices; or it may be speaking before the school board to advocate for what is best for all kids when structures and systems of power create barriers to fulfilling that mission. May we stand in solidarity + lead the way in modeling what it means to be engaged citizens committed to inclusion, equity and justice for all.
David Huebner is a recently retired award-winning social studies teacher, residing in Spring Hill, TN. As President of the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies 2016-2018, he led the successful effort to secure the National Conference for the Social Studies in Nashville, Tennessee (2023). In his final year of teaching, he won the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Excellence in Teaching Award, 2019 (from Nystrom Education).
Huebner, a strong advocate for expanding the influence of social studies in schools, is the Education & Exhibits Director for TCSS (Tennessee Council for the Social Studies). He demonstrates education leadership, such as introducing African American History and AP Human Geography to his last school district, and brought pacing guides and improved curriculum to several high schools.
David also exhibits committed citizenship, having worked with political leaders on leading education issues, including his most recent role as president of his county’s teacher union for four years.
With past experience in the music industry, business, and ministry, Huebner’s education practices link up easily with his B.A. in Geography, M.A. in Religious Education, and M.A. in Teaching.
David Huebner will bring a breadth of extensive experience and effective leadership to National Council of the Social Studies.
The loss of critical positioning and emphasis of social studies is a disturbing trend. In many elementary schools, social studies are no longer of major concern. In middle schools, confusing and ever-changing standards have placed social studies on the back burner. In high schools, there continues to be erosion in geographic emphasis and lack of concern and emphasis on citizenship. Too, there is little effort to link social studies with STEM programs.
How do we solve these growing issues in social studies? First, implement a program among all state councils to work closely with legislatures and political leaders to return geography and civics to their rightful place.
Secondly, meet with STEM leaders to bring aspects of citizenship education to STEM programs. STEM will build our nation and world in responsible and significant ways if powerful and widespread citizenship education is brought.
Alicen has bachelor’s degrees from Clarkson University in Accounting and Political Science, and master’s degrees in Teaching (SUNY Potsdam 2010) and Political Science (Syracuse University 2013). Ms. Morley is a former ICSS TOY award recipient (Iowa 2017) and NCSS Teacher of the Year award recipient (2018). She is a published and cited scholar in the academy and created an escape chamber game with BreakoutEDU. She has taught at both the college and k12 levels in New York State and Iowa for the past 9 years. Alicen was a full-time teacher at Boone High School from 2014-2019 where she was the chair of her department and member of several district and school leadership committees. Ms. Morley just began her new career at Iowa State University as a graduate student and educator where she teaches Educational Psychology for pre-service teachers (among others) and conducts research with faculty regarding social justice and educational technology. Alicen will earn her PhD in Education and become a professor in a pre-service teacher program. Her research agenda that focuses on creating accessible and effective online spaces for civic discourse. She lives in Ames, Iowa with her husband, Kris, and daughter, Charlotte.
I wish to be a teacher-at-large member for the NCSS because I am passionate about change in social studies education and the perception of our discipline in the world. Our democracy is crumbling and I believe social studies education is one of the most effective ways to reinvigorate civic discourse. I would like to represent teachers and students at council meetings to make sure that events are meeting the needs of educators, but I would also like to help bridge the gap between the university and the public school. There is a large disconnect between the academy and the educators. By having my feet in both worlds, I feel that I can provide a unique and needed perspective for this community. Further it is my wish to affect more change as an educator of social studies teachers when I complete my PhD in Education in a few years time. I believe the knowledge I will gain from this community will greatly enhance my ability to enhance social studies teacher education.
Nichole is the preK-12 Social Studies Content Leader for the Wentzville (Missouri) School District. She is responsible for promoting high quality curriculum and instruction throughout the district, which happens to be the fasted growing district throughout Missouri.
Advocating for social studies is a priority to Nichole; she is an active participant in the St. Louis area Social Studies/History Regional Consortium, the Missouri DESE SS Colloquia, MCSS and the Statewide SS Assessment Consortium. Nichole is past president of Learning Forward Mo/Missouri Staff Development Council. She Serves on her district's Equity Cohort and is a member of the 2019 TED Masterclass. She has presented on social studies, assessment and professional learning practices at local, state and national conferences. She is the recipient of the Gerald. D Troester/EducationPlus Professional Development Scholarship.
Nichole looks at the opportunity to serve on the NCSS board as a way to move social studies instruction forward, at all levels—preK-12. In order to prepare our students for civic life, our nation's schools can no longer marginalize high quality social studies education. We must be innovative in our advocacy, professional learning practices and opportunities, and policies. And, collaboratively develop solutions that will work for all students.
Joe Schmidt is the Social Studies Specialist for the Maine Department of Education following nine years as a social studies teacher in rural Wisconsin schools and three years as a K-12 Social Studies Teacher Leader in Madison, Wisconsin.
Joe serves on the iCivics National Educator Network and recently completed four years on the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board. Leadership roles for NCSS include current chairperson of the Government and Public Relations Committee and former chair of the select subcommittee for Social Education. Joe is a member of the NCSS Task Force on Inquiry-Based Social Studies Education.
Other distinguished recognition and positions include:
- Vice-President and Business Manager for the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies
- Geography Teacher Editorial Board
- Fellow at the Center for the Study of the American Constitution
- Teacher Study Abroad Program for the European Union Center for Excellence
- 2017 Snavely/Michalko Memorial Award
- 2014 NCSS Summer Leadership Institute
- Maine Commission for Community Service Board
- ThinkerAnalytix Advisory Board
Currently Joe is leading professional development related to teaching about Maine Native Americans and personal finance related to the recently revised social studies standards in Maine. He provides support throughout Maine while presenting at numerous state and national conferences annually.
Social Studies is the curriculum for how we live our lives and can be the cure to what ails us. Not only does it prepare students for tackling larger and deeper issues as they grow older, but it also sets the stage for well-rounded students who are not afraid to ask questions and explore their own curiosity about our world while also raising literacy rates and test scores. We believe deeply in social studies, but need more support. There is so much potential and we realize there are barriers to successful implementation. As a former classroom teacher, who became a district level curriculum leader, and now as a state specialist, I have the background experience to address these barriers.
We must encourage all educators, including elementary teachers, to provide meaningful Social Studies education for all students. For example, demonstrating how literacy learning is stronger when history content is included and how mathematics in the context of even basic economics deepens those mathematical practices. We know there is more work to do in our social studies classes and curriculum, but the leaders we will rely on in the future, need to be shaped in the social studies classrooms of today.
K-12 Classroom Teacher At-Large
Rhonda Watton teaches 8th grade Social Studies (U.S. History) at Templeton Middle School in Sussex, Wisconsin. She is a National Board Certified Teacher (2005/2015), a National Geographic Certified Educator, and a James Madison Fellow (2015). Rhonda holds two Masters degrees--one in Education, with an emphasis in Gifted and Talented, and one in American History and Government. Some of her accomplishments include being recognized as the NCGE Distinguished Teacher Award (2012), the NCSS Outstanding Middle Level Social Studies Teacher (2013) and the Gilder Lehrman Wisconsin History Teacher of the Year (2017). She is an active member of the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies, serving as past president, awards chair and professional development programs director. Rhonda serves as a Master Teacher for Colonial Williamsburg, a Teaching Ambassador for Monticello, a member of the iCivics Educator Network, and is a member of the Teacher Advisory Board for the National Humanities Center. In her school district, Rhonda has served as the Social Studies department chair, steering and schoolwide site planning committee member, mentor teacher and a cooperating teacher for preservice teachers.
Social Studies is at a crossroads in our K-12 classrooms. The subject is so vital for an effective democracy and citizenship, yet is the first subject to lose a place at the table in many schools and districts. As a K-12 representative, it is necessary to continually advocate for the importance of Social Studies being taught regularly in our elementary schools and a tested subject in our secondary classrooms. Civic competence among students doesn’t just happen, but is learned through effectively evaluating primary sources and media influences, active collaboration with others, and making a difference in their schools and communities. K-12 teachers need to advocate for effective, relevant professional development including project based learning, civics education, C3 inquiries, and other active learning strategies such as gamification.
As a middle level educator, I will be an active voice representing K-12 education. Having worked with teachers at elementary, middle and high school levels on a regular basis, I am conscious of the struggles each level faces, but also the skills students need to graduate and become civically competent adults in our society. Advocacy for our K-12 classrooms is necessary for all teachers who every day are making a difference in students’ lives.