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NCSS President's Message

Terry’s Cherries: Inclusiveness

March 2018

In the past three issues of this newsletter, I have written about the NCSS Strategic Plan. This column continues with thoughts about Priority #4—Inclusiveness.

“NCSS encourages, promotes and ensures inclusiveness that reflects society and strengthens civic life.” In 2018 this priority looms greater almost daily. How does a diverse national organization like NCSS fulfill this priority constructively and without offending or upsetting members, legislatures, parents, and the public?

We are a very diverse nation with educators supporting a variety of causes. The quote “you can’t please everyone” has merit, yet as a national organization we realize our obligation is to try to serve social studies teachers and their students in every community in America. The three details (a, b, and c) of Priority #4 of the Strategic Plan can help us navigate this terrain.

Terry's Cherries: Innovation at NCSS

February 2018

While watching the news on Internet videos (as well as on television, reading news reports, and listening to the radio), and while speaking with our colleagues, we realize that the changing world calls for innovative education practices. In many ways, how instructors prepare students today for civic life is different from what we might have been doing in the classroom as recently as five years ago. 

My last two messages in this newsletter were about “Collaboration” and “Communication,” which are the first two priorities of the NCSS Strategic Plan.  Priority three is “Innovation: NCSS responds to challenges and changing needs through innovative practices, policies, and solutions to prepare students for civic life.”

Cherry’s Blossoms: Many Forms of Communication

January 2018

The NCSS Strategic Plan is alive and active. To continue to explain this plan and follow up on my last article about Priority #1-Collaboration, let's look at Priority #2-Communication. (See the whole five-point plan at

The word “communication” has a variety of definitions depending who attempts to define it. NCSS should look at the challenge of communication broadly. It is imperative that our professional organization uses a mixture of communication tools to reach out to our members, the educational community, policy makers, the American public, the media, and the world.

The NCSS website you’re now visiting, holds our main vehicles of communica­tion. For example, the NCSS National Curriculum Standards and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards represent major efforts to enhance pedagogy. You’ll also find a collection of Position Statements, which are approved by the NCSS Board of Directors, and which reflect on various topics, from “Study about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom” to “Media Literacy.” Teachers can use these statements to communicate to various groups, such as parents, fellow teachers, principals, school board members, and state legislators.

Gathering on the 75th Anniversary of E.O. 9066

October 2017

By Karen Korematsu, Guest Columnist 

If you haven’t decided yet to attend the 97th Annual NCSS Conference in San Francisco on November 14- 19, 2017, I encourage you to make your plans now and not to miss out on a stimulating and educational experience. With our theme of “Expanding Visions/Bridging Traditions,” much thought and planning has gone into the selection of inspiring speakers, informative and in-depth sessions, and unique special events. For example, on Thursday evening, November 16, there will be a fabulous reception of culture and food in San Jose at the Gurdwara, a magnificent Sikh temple, the largest in North America. For civic education, be sure to include in your schedule the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Naturalization Ceremony on Saturday November 18, as it will be a moving experience that you will want to see and share with your students. The Honorable Lucy Koh will administer the Oath of Allegiance. Judge Koh is the first Asian American woman judge in the federal courts.

Cherry Blossoms: Resources for Vibrant Times

August 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812–1870)


So often, people only quote or know just the first dozen words of this famous opening. Dickens paints a picture of a time both blissful and bleak, an image that certainly applies today. We sometimes forget the good we are doing in the world. Working with students, while applying C3 Framework techniques, offers ways to have students seek information. Always enjoyable to witness such in the classroom. Listening to the news and sharing with students, it can be a real challenge to not dwell on the negatives. The challenge is to present all sides of a civic issue— without parents or administrators seeking a meeting with the teacher afterward.

President’s Message: Cherry Blossoms

June 2017

As I’m writing this first message as President of NCSS, I imagine a lot of you are doing something similar: you’re participating in a professional learning seminar, traveling on an educational tour, or taking a college course to advance your degree. When you return to your classroom, you will have digested your summer knowledge and be ready to apply it to the classroom. What a great example of dedication and love of occupation.

President's Message March–April 2017

March 2017

The focus of our March NCSS Board of Directors meeting was strategic planning, held at Discovery Education’s fantastic state-of-the-art facilities in Silver Spring, Maryland, which they generously allowed NCSS to use free of charge. The meeting reminded me of the reason we were there—to create a better state of the art association of social studies educators.

We focused on two items: approval of NCSS House of Delegates resolutions and strategic planning for our future endeavors. Much of the strategic planning had been done by an ad hoc committee with numerous conference calls and lots of creative thinking. Now, at our face-to-face meeting in Silver Spring, members of the board could examine each part of our vision for the future and discuss it in some depth. Our Executive Committee co-chair, Larry Paska (who is Executive Director of NCSS) led us through a variety of group activities with four to five board members per group to examine our priorities.

Welcome Our New Leaders!

January 2017

Democracy is alive and well at NCSS. Members’ votes for the 2017–2018 Board of Directors and Officers were tallied, and the results are as follows:
Our new Vice President is Tina Heafner, and she is in line to become NCSS President in 2019. 
NCSS members also elected four members to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. Joseph Karb, a teacher at Springville Middle School, Springville, New York, and Shannon Pugh, a Secondary Social Studies Teacher Specialist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Maryland, were elected to second consecutive terms on the NCSS Board of Directors. Joining the board for their first terms are Anthony Roy, a Teacher at Connecticut River Academy, East Hartford, Conecticut, and Jesse Haight, a Professor at Clarion University, Clarion, Pennsylvania.
Also in July 2017, President-Elect Terry Cherry, a consultant from Mesquite, Texas, will begin his term as president, and Vice-President India Meissel, a Teacher at Lakeland High School in Suffolk, Virginia, will assume the office of president-elect.