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Meet Our 2018-2019 NCSS President: India Meissel

Q: Congratulations on being elected as the 2018-2019 NCSS President. What was your path to the NCSS Presidency? 

A: In 2006-2007 I was named the NCSS Secondary Teacher of the Year, and then went on to serve as a member and chair of that selection committee for approximately 10 years while helping to usher in the changeover from the paper application process to its current electronic format. In 2011, then NCSS President Sue Blanchette asked if I would be willing to serve on the initial advisory board of the newly formed Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society where I served the maximum two 3-year terms, as well as two years as advisory board chair.

I successfully ran for the position of K-12 Teacher-at-Large and served the NCSS BOD from 2012-2015. After one unsuccessful run for the position of NCSS Vice President, I made the decision to run again and was elected to serve as NCSS Vice President starting in July of 2016. During my board experience, I had the privilege to serve as a member of the 2013 St. Louis and 2015 New Orleans planning meetings, as well as co-chairing the 2016 Washington, DC Annual Conference with NCSS Past President Peggy Jackson. All of these experiences have helped me understand different aspects of NCSS and helped shape my rise to where I am now.

Q: What do you think are the most valuable things NCSS offers educators today?  

A: As a professional organization, NCSS treats social studies educators as the professionals that they are and provides them an annual conference with a “kid in a candy store” opportunity to network with other professionals from around the globe in their area(s) of interest. Additionally, NCSS honors its outstanding educators through a variety of awards such as the Elementary, Middle and High School level Teacher of the Year Awards, the Christa McAuliffe Award for Innovation in Social Studies, the James Becker Award for Global Understanding, and various awards for research and inquiry into social studies.

The conference is not the only time NCSS supports the social studies profession. Throughout the year and during the summer months, NCSS offers webinars and mini-conferences that offer a variety of opportunities to meet members' professional development needs. Additionally, any member can reach out, share, and start a conversation via the NCSS blog found at connected.socialstudies.org/participate/blog-guidelines.

But it doesn’t stop there. NCSS is constantly surveying its membership to see what it can do to best meet the needs of its members. We depend on you to help us center our activities and mission to the needs of our members. So, when that survey comes to your inbox, don’t delete it, PARTICIPATE!

Q: What are your three goals for 2018-2019 as NCSS President?

A: 

  1. To help build leadership throughout the social studies community that can be used at the local, state and national levels.
  2. To build a conference that will bring together the most diverse collection of sessions and teachers in recent memory to help “build the future of social studies.”
  3. To work to lead NCSS and its BOD towards successful completion of its current strategic priorities and 100th anniversary in 2020.

Q: Your conference theme is subtitled, "Building the Future of Social Studies." How can we help build the future of social studies?

A: “Building the Future of Social Studies” takes on many meanings. First, as a discipline, we need to regain our standing in the educational field so that social studies stops being marginalized and regains the respect that it deserves in society. Second, we must be the leaders who build up our children to be better, more active citizens within a global society. That may mean we need to step out of our comfort zones and have democratic discussions of controversial topics that take into account all viewpoints, while listening to those viewpoints. Our classrooms need to be a safe haven for ALL of our children. Finally, we must build for our own future. As Marian Wright Edelman once indicated, “Children must have at least one person who believes in them. It could be you.” Teachers need this type of assistance/belief as well. We all need to step up to mentor those entering the profession and ensure that good teachers remain in the profession, and veteran teachers continue to have a support system. I student taught in 1986 and 32 years later my cooperating teacher remains one of my mentors. I still learn things from her and I like to believe that she occasionally learns something from me!  

The future is in our hands and it is a bright one at that.

Q: What are you currently reading? Do you have any summer reading recommendations for teachers?

A: Right now, most of my readings are articles pertaining to some of the summer professional development in which I will either help lead or participate. Before the summer is out however, I intend on reading (or re-reading) a few of the books from speakers scheduled to present at the upcoming NCSS Annual Conference in Chicago: Anthony Ray Hinton’s compelling story The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Lifeand Freedom on Death Row, Khizr Khan’s An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, and Susan Hood’s Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay.

My reading recommendations for my colleagues? Pick at least one book in an area that you are not familiar with or want to learn more about and read it. As the saying goes: JUST DO IT! Seek out a colleague in your building (Language Arts teachers are great for this) and see if there is a new book on their student reading list that you might want to read as well. Then, work together towards an interdisciplinary lesson for the upcoming year. Build that bridge between the disciplines.

Q: What is a favorite memory of NCSS over the past years?

A: Just one?? NCSS has given me the opportunity over the years to meet and “live” history with some of my social studies heroes:  Rep. John Lewis, Gerda Weissmann Klein, Sandra Day O’Connor, Mary Beth Tinker, Karen Korematsu, and Terrence Roberts to name just a few. To have the opportunity to talk with those whose names were once only people you read in a textbook and to carry that interaction back to your classroom is living history at its finest.