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Executive Director's Message


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.”

Social Studies: The Original STEM

This post is not a plea to add social studies to list of STEM disciplines.  “SSSTEM” does not roll off the tongue politely in conversation.  “STEMSS” is not a memorable acronym, either.  I also worry that if we add too many more disciplines to STEM, we’re just going to end up with a clunky acronym for the traditional 8-10 course school day.

Instead, this post is a thought that social studies education is the original STEM initiative.

Consider this definition of STEM:

The Second Century of Social Studies

It started to dawn on me this week that we are entering the second full century of social studies education as we know it.  Of course, there was not a specific date in which a formal resolution declared, “….there shall be a new subject called social studies taught in every classroom and in every grade level throughout the United States.”  History is seldom that neat and tidy.

Toward Student Engagement in Community

Each year, NCSS partners with MyCollegeOptions®, the nation’s largest college planning program, to survey high school students on their perceptions about their social studies experience. Teachers receive a survey about their school’s course requirements and instructional program; they also comment on membership in associations like ours, benefits they derive from membership, and their continuing professional learning needs.