Skip to content Skip to navigation

Executive Director's Message

San Francisco and the State of Social Studies in 2017

As I post this blog, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) is just two weeks away from hosting our annual flagship event, the nation’s largest social studies education conference. If you are planning to attend, I hope you’re as excited as I am for a phenomenal week of professional learning in the City by the Bay, and your bags are packed! If you’re reading this and are not too familiar with NCSS, I invite you to learn more about us and our conference at

Social Studies and the Anniversary of Sputnik

Sixty years ago today, October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. From that point on the emphasis on science and math education consumed the American public. Other curriculums including social studies/science took a back seat. Those emphasis in education still remain today.

Happy New Year!

In many ways, July 1 always feels like a new year to me. It’s often the start of a new fiscal year, and I’ve had a few paid and volunteer positions in my career with a July 1 start date. There’s always a temptation in me to “get everything ready” for a big release or roll-out on July 1 – to start the new year off with a major pronouncement or initiative.


In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week this past May, we asked for stories of what inspired you to become a social studies teacher. As summer vacation is in full swing and many of us are deep in our own summer professional learning, now is a great time to ask that question again. Summer is both a time for rejuvenation and preparation for the next school year – a time when many educators become full-time learners and immerse in study tours, teaching institutes, curriculum writing projects, or own coursework toward a graduate degree or new certification.

Student Voice in the Social Studies

A few years ago, NCSS established the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society, the only national program for high school junior and seniors that recognizes their excellence and achievement in social studies learning. In a short time, over 500 Rho Kappa chapters have been established in 38 U.S. states and 4 countries. If you’d like to learn more about Rho Kappa, check out We invite you to start a chapter in your own school and recognizing student success in our discipline!

Learning from the Best

Every year, professional associations recognize outstanding achievement in the classroom through Teacher of the Year awards. Being recognized by your peers is one of the highest honors and humbling moments for any educator. The process of forming an awards committee, selecting a recipient from many outstanding educators, and organizing the awards event is an important part of any conference. There was an outstanding take-away I wanted to highlight from the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies’ annual conference in February: a session called “Learning from the Best: Award-Winning Social Studies Teachers Share Their Insights.”

Dispatch from the Big Apple

​Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Greater Metropolitan New York Social Studies Conference. This is the annual conference of the Association of Teachers of Social Studies/United Federation of Teachers (ATSS/UFT), our affiliated council which serves educators in the New York City Department of Education. I have attended this conference for many years as a social studies curriculum specialist for the New York State Education Department and later as the President of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. It was a treat to return to my home state in my new capacity to learn from New York City educators –and to share our NCSS 2016 annual research findings in a session titled “What Our Students Have to Say About Social Studies: The State of the Social Studies in 2017.”