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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.

I have come to realize over time that lasting changes are not always made through a major press release or publicity drive, but take shape gradually through forward movement every day. Sometimes you notice these changes in the smallest of ways: a new feature; a design change; an added benefit; a new opportunity. For NCSS, July 1 was both a big day and “just another day” of doing our best to serve our members and social studies community. You may have noticed we tweaked our logo a bit – the design matches what you see on our Rho Kappa National Honor Society logo and other logos, and represents the next evolution of our “globe” design. I hope you like it, and welcome your feedback on it. In the coming weeks, we will share some ideas for using our logo if you represent or lead any of our NCSS Associated Groups, Special Interest Communities, or Affiliated Councils. Our new logo is now featured on our webpages and social media (please check our guidelines for its use), and we encourage our many strong member groups to do the same.

You may notice a few new leaders on our Board of Directors. Terry Cherry (Mesquite, TX) has assumed the role of President is our 97th Annual Conference Chair this year for San Francisco. We welcome Jesse Haight from Clarion University (Clarion, PA) and Anthony Roy from Connecticut River Academy (East Hartford, CT) to our Board. Tracy Todd from Easley High School (Easley, SC) joins our Board in the ex-officio role of 2017 House of Delegates Steering Chair. Joseph Karb (Springville, NY) and Shannon Pugh (Annapolis, MD) return to our Board for second terms. New leadership always means that an established vision is realized through more perspectives and voices. This is what makes associations like ours strong. Leader by leader and member by member, we chart a path forward for our profession. I’m excited because, through the leadership of our recent Board and volunteer leaders, our current Board and volunteer leaders can carry forth important changes for social studies education. I want to thank Past-President Peggy Jackson for her leadership last year in achieving our new NCSS Strategic Plan. Thank you to our recent Board members Linda Bennett, Kim O’Neil, Leslie Parks, and Gordon Sisk for their partnership in the past year. Their collective efforts, along with so many leaders from our Board and across our Associated Groups and organization, turned our new Strategic Plan into a wonderful reality – one which will guide our entire organization in this new year.

A former supervisor and mentor often said to me, “under-promise and over-deliver.” This phrase always stuck with me, and remains more relevant over time. NCSS is creating partnerships that will bring added support to our members and profession this year. We are making some changes that will affect our governance structure, encourage greater leadership participation from among our members and leader groups, and provide more professional learning support where it’s been most requested. Some of these changes may have big press releases; some will be tweaks to make your membership experience a little bit better; and some you may not notice until they’re happening, but you’ll be glad as they appear!

As of July 1, what I can personally promise and deliver is the following:

  • We are focused more than ever on our mission “to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators.” So much so that we placed our mission statement on every webpage at
  • We commit to actions in all 5 NCSS Strategic Plan Priorities that will grow and support social studies educators and our profession.
  • We support your own professional learning goals and path in social studies leadership.
  • We strive to ensure that you (and our entire social studies community) have the resources, services, and partnerships you need to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. 

At NCSS, we “help teachers help students” every day. We’re excited to begin the 2017-18 year with you focused more than ever on that promise.

Thank you for your membership, and thank you for your service to our students and schools. Please continue to reach out directly at, by phone at 301-588-1800 ext. 103, or on social media @LawrencePaska or @NCSSNetwork to share with me your ideas to help NCSS support you in the classroom.

Enjoy the summer – and I hope to see you this November at the 97th NCSS Annual Conference in San Francisco!