A: I work at Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta as an associate professor of social studies education with a focus on teaching preservice teachers and doctoral students. I also serve Georgia teachers in my role as Associate Director with the GSU Center for Business and Economic Education through Georgia. Moreover, I collaborate with the Honors College as Faculty Associate for Internships and Experiential Learning. Prior to joining the faculty at GSU, I taught high school social studies at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Georgia where I developed a passion for experiential learning, such as service-learning and simulation games.
Q: When did you first hear about NCSS, and what drew you to join this association?
A: I am extremely grateful that my professors at the University of Georgia introduced me to NCSS. My first conference was San Antonio in 2000 and I vividly recall hearing Gerta Weissman Klein speak about surviving the Holocaust. Her talk and the San Antonio conference reaffirmed my choice to become an educator and member of NCSS. I have not missed an annual conference in 18 years.
Q: What, do you think, are the two or three most valuable things that NCSS offers to educators today?
A: My favorite opportunity through NCSS is the national annual conference. I gather many amazing materials for my teaching and I benefit from sharing resources and ideas with colleagues. Another valuable benefit from NCSS membership is all the resources from publications, such as Social Education, Middle Level Learner, TSSP, and NCSS bulletins. I have used these incredible resources as a teacher and introduced many new teachers to them as well. Finally, I truly appreciate the wonderful travel opportunities offered in partnership through NCSS. For example, I traveled to Japan through the Kezai Koho Fellowship in 2001 and plan to apply for other travel opportunities to Germany and Korea in the future. I always visit the International Alley at the annual conference.
Q: What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge today for social studies educators?
A: The biggest challenge for social studies educators is survival. Some colleges have cut liberal arts programs amidst greater emphasis on STEM and STEAM in the educational and political realms. STEAM added the arts in a move that recognizes an important and frequently ignored element of education. Why not other content areas? Social studies is left clamoring for the extremely limited and precious scraps of K-12 curricular time. Social studies at the elementary level is particularly circumvented and disregarded. In a growing number of states, social studies is no longer included in the required curriculum for the elementary grades! Valiant colleagues who understand and appreciate the value of social studies find creative ways to integrate the essential social studies content into math problems and reading assignments. Unfortunately, we are marginalized by the high-stakes tests that continue to focus on STEM or STEAM subjects. The best approach for addressing the marginalization of social studies is to actively advocate the benefits of social studies at the local, state, and national levels. We must embrace active citizenship, advocate, and become agents of change to save social studies.
Q: Finally, is there a person that inspired you to enter the field of education and/or social studies? If so, please tell us about that.
A: My mother, Maxine Feinberg, retired as a media center assistant but recently passed away from cancer. She always supported my decision to become an educator (financially and emotionally). I am forever inspired by her patience, advocacy, and unending love that I hope translates in my teaching and writing.