SILVER SPRING, Md., (Sept. 28, 2017) -- The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) named Kathryn A. Hunter, a teacher at Minnesauke Elementary School, East Setauket, New York, as Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Hunter will be honored at the 97th NCSS Annual Conference in San Francisco (Nov. 17-19, 2017), and will receive a commemorative gift and a cash award at the Conference Welcome Breakfast on Friday, Nov. 17 at the Moscone Center.
"NCSS is honored to recognize and acknowledge an educator as outstanding as Ms. Kathryn Hunter. Reviewers noted the effectiveness of Ms. Hunter’s teaching model of engaging students in social problems both local and international. The result of such practice has inspired Ms. Hunter’s students to develop empathy and engage in making change. Ms. Hunter’s teaching models connecting students in knowledge and truth," said NCSS President Terry Cherry.
Established in 1983, this annual award recognizes social studies teachers demonstrating exceptional teaching abilities that include integrating key concepts of the “College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework.” For more information visit: http://www.socialstudies.org/awards/teaching.
“NCSS is proud to honor Ms. Hunter and her approach to helping students understand and see themselves as active participants in the issues that matter most to them and to our world,” said NCSS Executive Director Dr. Lawrence Paska.
Hunter believes that every child and teacher is able and capable of transcending present challenges and accomplishing great things, and said:
“I love being an elementary school teacher and I am in love with the subject of social studies because of all the hope and possibilities it creates for our students.”
Hunter engages her students in active learning experiences grounded on this belief. For example, during the Flint Michigan water crisis, her students engaged in “Operation Clean Water” and raised $940.50 that they sent to the Genesee County United Way. Another special teaching moment was when students were awakened to the social issue of homelessness after reading "Hold Fast" by Blue Balliett, and researched and found that there were 21,000 homeless children living in shelters in New York City. Through “Operation Hold Fast” each student raised 1,000 pennies. Each penny represented a child. They called WOR radio and spoke with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Through his office, the students were able to fund a trip for one special shelter with many fifth graders to go see a New York Mets game. Additionally, students created a bulletin board of hope and encouragement at the shelter and reached out to the author of the book who donated signed copies of her book to the shelter.
A second career teacher, Hunter’s teaching spans 14 years. Prior to teaching she worked in Washington as a Legislative Aide to U.S. House Rep. Robert Jan Mrazek and for the American Physical Therapy Association pursuing direct access and educational funding legislation, and spent several years raising her three children at home, all of which are recent college graduates in the field of social studies.
Hunter received her New York Permanent Certification in Elementary Education in 2003 after earning a Bachelor or Arts in Political Science and Master of Science in Elementary Education from C.W. Post, Long Island University, New York. She was awarded the Margaret Simon Outstanding Teacher of Social Studies by the Long Island Council for the Social Studies (LICSS) in 2016 and recently was recognized as Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the New York State Council for the Social Studies (NYSCSS). Hunter serves in the educational advisory committee of several organizations, including the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County. Besides LICSS, NYSCSS and NCSS, her affiliations include: The Southern Poverty Law Center, One Clip at a Time, and Three Village Teachers Association. She conducts professional development classes for teachers at various local, state and national conferences and is passionate about helping students turn social studies into informed social action.
The NCSS Annual Conference is the largest and most comprehensive social studies professional development conference where social studies educators share, interact, develop ideas, and enhance their skills. This year’s theme: ”Expanding Visions/Bridging Traditions” will offer more than 900 content-rich sessions covering all subjects and grade levels, a lineup of renowned speakers and education experts, and numerous exhibiting organizations displaying the latest in educational resources. For more information visit: https://www.socialstudies.org/conference.
Founded in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies is the largest professional association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. The NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.
NCSS regards social studies as the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.