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Past President Meissel's Message: One Last Time

One Last Time…

By NCSS Past President India Meissel

Since its debut on Broadway in 2015, the musical Hamilton has captivated audiences across the United States. (I know that I thoroughly enjoyed my two different Chicago Hamilton evenings!) And while the musical isn’t 100% historically accurate, it has provided teachers with a starting point for inspiring a new generation to learn more about (and research) the founding fathers while opening the avenue to the teaching of history via hip hop and rap.

As I write this final message, please excuse me for borrowing a few ideas and/or parallels from Hamilton’s One Last Time.

I wanna talk about what I have learned…                                                                         

The hard-won wisdom I have earned…

As my NCSS presidential year draws to a close, I would like to celebrate all of the passionate, incredible social studies educators I have met at various state, regional, and NCSS conferences since starting my NCSS travels. What I found was that while states may not share the same curriculum standards or course pathway for graduation, what we all do share is a love for our subject, the students that occupy our classrooms, and the continued desire to hone our craft. Learning from and with you has enriched me as a teacher educator and increased my resolve to continue advocating for both our students as well as our profession.

Pre-Service and Early Career Educators continue to be an area of need for our collective advocacy. While it was a joy to be able to spend time this year with the future of social studies, I am realistic that a “one and done” attitude is not sufficient to build our future and to keep good teachers in the profession. We need to think outside of the box as to how to best provide additional scholarships or grants to allow those already strapped by college loan debts the opportunity to attend high quality professional development without deepening their debt.

Another area for advocacy is that of student voices in our schools: the empowerment of our students to act upon issues that impact them. A process that should enable students to use their knowledge to contribute to the classroom and to the school. When students feel comfortable sharing their voices, they grow into positions of leadership. In 2011, NCSS started the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society which has grown to over 700 chapters across the globe. Rho Kappa represents the concept of knowledge through service. While recognizing those students who have achieved academic excellence in history, successful Rho Kappa chapters provide a venue for students to perform meaningful work for their school and the surrounding community. Beginning in the fall of 2019, NCSS has committed to the expansion of Rho Kappa to the middle school level. It is my hope that middle school teachers will see this as a positive opportunity for their students, school, and community, and will charter a Rho Kappa Chapter at their school, helping to give students a productive start at shaping their student voice, learning lessons that will carry them well into their adult lives.

I want to warn against partisan fighting…

NCSS defines 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.” https://www.socialstudies.org/standards/execsummary One can certainly argue that this 1992 definition needs updating to include the current expanded areas of study and inclusivity. However, we cannot allow ourselves to argue over one area of interest over another. Social Studies is under enough of an attack from outside forces that would choose to either partially or fully eliminate our content area from schools that we cannot fight amongst ourselves. We must continue to uplift ALL our social studies courses and encourage the colleagues who teach them. Stop the competition! As Founding Father John Dickinson said: “United we stand, divided we fall.” We need to act now and move ourselves forward stronger than ever. We all need to be a part of that movement.

Like the scripture says…Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree…

As one enters my classroom, one of the quotes that adorns the wall opposite my door reads: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” (Rabindranath Tagore, Indian Poet)

It has been both an honor and a joy to represent you and serve as your NCSS president this past year. To have had the opportunity to say what was in my heart and on my mind and have people listen was truly a privilege. However, it is time to turn over the NCSS reins to incoming President Tina Heafner with the heartfelt wish that you support her with the same enthusiasm and zeal shown to me this past year.  

But it is time for me to partially step back from my NCSS family to return full time to the people that I hold so dearly: my personal family and the amazing educators that make up my work family. Their love and support carried me through both the highs and lows of my presidency, and while words just cannot adequately express how much I love and appreciate them all…

I anticipate with pleasing expectation the retreat…

In which I promise myself the sweet enjoyment of partaking…

In the midst of my fellow citizens…

 

One Last Time…





 

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