On Friday, September 29, NCSS announced our three 2017 Teacher of the Year award winners. Our award winners represent exemplary practice – outstanding achievement in fostering the kinds of learning spaces in social studies we want all students to experience. Before I write any more, I want to personally congratulate Kathryn A. Hunter (Outstanding Elementary Teacher), Erin Glenn (Outstanding Middle Level Teacher), and Ryan New (Outstanding Secondary Teacher) on receiving the highest distinction for social studies teaching excellence in our country. We are proud of you, we appreciate all you do to engage and inspire our students every day in social studies, and we are excited to learn from you about great teaching practice!
As you can see from their biographies, our 2017 national award winners are highly accomplished in their states and regions. I often say that one of my favorite moments at any conference is the awards reception. I love learning about best practices in social studies classrooms at our state and regional social studies conferences across the country and meeting many new colleagues. A highlight from my first year at NCSS has been the invitations to attend many Affiliated Council conferences in our wider social studies community. At these conferences, teaching award winners are recognized for their practice, high standards, and deep commitment to every learner. Our many NCSS volunteer leaders, board members, and contributors began their professional association service and leadership in these councils, and part of my personal joy is the chance to meet new award winners and encourage their continued leadership and growth toward national service.
And yet, receiving an award is only the beginning. I consider each of our teaching award winners – whether at the local, state, regional, or national levels – to be “social studies ambassadors” to the world. Our award winners are recognized for excellence in their craft, and now we know who they are! I highly encourage everyone to learn a little more about our social studies teachers of the year at all levels: their work, their interests, and what makes them recognized by their peers. Check out their websites, publications, or teaching resources they may have shared. Attend any sessions or poster presentations they are leading with conference participants. Follow them on social media.
Even better, invite them to speak at your next conference, school event, district professional development day, or other moment highlighting social studies instruction. Outstanding teachers of the year at all levels are our social studies ambassadors. They represent excellence in our profession. They can share what works in their classroom, and about the love they have for teaching social studies. Our renewed calls for civic engagement and learning, deeper historical thinking, and more instructional time for social studies throughout K-12 education mean that we need more voices to share how social studies is a foundation in preparing all students for college, career, and civic life. The good news is that those voices are right among us! Our award winners inspire us to more action and more social studies, because they are proof that all social studies disciplines make a difference to learners of all ages!
You will have many chances to meet our award winners at our 97th Annual Conference in San Francisco. Join us on Friday, November 17 for our Welcome Breakfast where they will be honored. Attend their conference sessions to learn more about their work. If you cannot attend our Annual Conference in person, consider reaching out to learn more about their award-winning teaching.
In addition to recognizing outstanding teachers of the year, NCSS supports other teaching, leadership, and research awards. Please visit our Awards and Grants webpage to learn about all of our recognition programs, and our partner organizations which graciously support them. We are delighted to celebrate excellence in our profession. Our next step together is to share that excellence with all those around us who care about a well-rounded education for every student. Let’s start by listening to our social studies ambassadors.