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National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) first-timer scholarship recipients

September 30, 2013

At the 2012 NCSS Conference in Seattle, “Opening Windows to the World,” the National Resource Centers in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies – Canadian Studies Center, Center for Global Studies, East Asia Center, Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, Middle East Center, South Asia Center, and Southeast Asia Center – awarded five fellowships for first-time attendees to acknowledge and support their interests in integrating international content into the curriculum. Please join us in congratulating the following Fellows.

Eric Stamm Boyer

10th and 12th grade, Bremerton High School
Bremerton, WA
World history as a construct is rooted in the idea that we as humans are all part of something bigger, something that unites the human experience and emboldens the human construct. Despite history’s many tales of difference and conflict, a new tale of history’s power to unite and confide can be realized and implemented, and it is my hope as a young history educator to impart these notions on the next generation of learners.

Eric Stamm Boyer’s Reflections on the Year (09/13)

The NCSS conference was a revelation. The speakers, workshops, presentations, exhibits, people, and most of all the conversation, were exhilarating. As a new teacher, I focused on technology and Common Core workshops, but I was particularly moved by the conference speakers who spoke on global citizenship, issues, and perspectives.

Keynote speaker Rick Steves reminded me that travel is a political act and that travelers are ambassadors of peace and understanding. I found his talk to be crucial for Americans to recognize how others perceive us, and how valuable travel is to gaining perspective on the world and ourselves. The Naturalization Ceremony and Citizenship Panel further emphasized global connections and how U.S. citizenship is truly an international experience. Finally, Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half The Sky” program taught me to take care not to teach about women as merely extension activities, but to integrate womens’ issues at the center of any global studies curriculum because women are at the core of solutions to most global initiatives involving the environment, economy, health, education, and human rights.

Justi Echeles

9th – 12th grade, Portland Public Schools
Portland, OR
I am interested in integrating international content into my classroom because of our current climate of globalization, which includes everything from economics to culture, climate to entertainment, and global politics to cyber-communications. Students will be well-served to recognize and partake in how connected we all are.

Justi Echeles’ Conference Reflection

When I received the scholarship for the NCSS Conference in Seattle, I was incredibly inspired, although disappointed because I was still a substitute teacher. I wanted to include lessons, strategies, and knowledge gained from the conference in the classroom, but I had no classroom.

Finally, this summer, I was hired to teach at Portland, Oregon’s Summer Scholars credit recovery program. I taught one session of Economics and one session of Modern World History. I used what I gained (and retained) most from the conference – how to help students make connections to the world around them.

I had been sent a package of lessons and booklets pertaining to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was finally able to use them. I began the course with this package, introducing students to human rights, the role of the United Nations, and how human rights and their violations play out around the world. I then used Brown University’s Choices program, and only several days in, students were considering what the United States as a country values, and applying these values to U.S. foreign policy with regard to human rights violations. This was challenging work for the students, yet I am happy to report they were highly engaged in deliberating U.S. policy as applied to global and domestic scenarios.

As the NCSS Conference proved, international content is current, flowing, and interconnected. When the news of Syria broke early this fall, I once again wished I had my own classroom of students to help them relate this news story to the lessons on human rights and U.S. policy.

I also used the Choices program to lead students through the French Revolution, and its connection to the development of human rights. I then found an article summarizing the Egyptian Revolution, and students wrote about the similarities and historical thread of both revolutions.

The NCSS conference taught me how to bridge seemingly disperate global issues into thematic classroom studies. Womens’ issues, racism, the repercussions of colonialism, global economics, the environment, equality, freedom and enslavement, poverty, and non-violent resistance are all issues raised at the NCSS Seattle conference, and students were able to consider global human rights issues through specific issues of personal interest to them.

What the conference left me with, and I hope I left my students with, is an optimism in the face of incredible, seemingly insurmountable, global issues. Optimism because of individuals who, from the simply starting point of caring, can be a force for good in the world.

Thank you. I am most grateful to you and all the work you do.
Justi Echeles
Portland, Oregon

Maggie Alice Fish

6th and 7th grade, McClure Middle School
Seattle, WA
I believe that we are all global citizens now, and students need to be able to understand how our world with its myriad of cultures and places impacts all of our lives on a daily basis. Understanding different cultures and the historical events that shaped them will make the students of today capable of making changes to ensure that they can help our world be a better place for all of us tomorrow.

Maggie Fish’s Reflections (09/13)

Attending the NCSS convention in Seattle has been great for my students and inspirational for me. I was able to attend many great workshops and apply what I learned in my classroom right away. I also made some great professional contacts with social studies teachers in other schools.

Some of my favorite workshops were about teaching nonfiction reading skills to ensure that all students are able to access the content. I find this to be incredible valuable, since not only does it help kids be successful in my class, but it helps them be successful across their day. They can take the reading and note-taking skills I have taught them and use them in their language arts, math, science, and elective classes. Other teachers have mentioned how grateful they are for the reading skills I have been teaching, since it makes their students better able to read and understand all content.

Another area that I focused on during the convention was using technology as a tool for helping understanding. While my school does not have great technology, I have been able to take my students to the computer lab and use some of the great sites that I learned about during the convention. In addition, I was able to talk to my colleagues and administrators about what type of devices and technology I thought our school should purchase, based on what I had learned.

Finally, meeting the various teachers and vendors was a great experience. I was exposed to lots of different materials and vendors, many of whom I would never have heard of otherwise. It was great to see that teachers were the ones leading the workshops, and I really enjoyed learning from their experiences teaching social studies.

I’m very grateful that I had the chance to attend the NCSS convention. It has impacted my teaching and opened my eyes to new ways of doing things and new materials and technology that can benefit my students and their learning. Not only that, but I was newly re-inspired by all the great workshops and stories from my colleagues, and it refreshed my teaching and personal learning about social studies.

Wendy Sue Fitzhenry

9th – 12th grade, Trinity Lutheran School
Bend, OR
I believe that no subject within the realm of social sciences can be taught in a vacuum. Every topic should be considered in light of international relations and this global world we live in. I’m excited to gather new skills and information at the NCSS conference to pass on to my current and future students.

Wendy Fitzhenry’s Reflections (09/13)

The Jackson School of International Studies gave me a wonderful gift when I got the grant to attend my very first NCSS national conference. It was a wonderful experience that immediately benefited me (and my students, starting on the Monday after the conference!).

The conference gave me additional tools and insight into teaching my American students, as well as the large amount of international students that are in my classroom each day. I gained information and knowledge regarding countries and cultures so different than that of our United States. I also gained access to information that I have been able to use to bring about important conversations regarding governmental policies, cultural practices, and world history with my students. I gained a confidence in discussing world affairs that I didn’t have prior to attending the conference.

I also made important contacts with non-profits that are able to support me in my classroom, and also provide me with ideas and opportunities to challenge my students in how they think. I now have students that are considering international policy, global social work, and humanitarian practices as future endeavors. I can’t take all the credit, but I can’t help but think that some of the content of my classes has opened the eyes of a few kids that are going to make a great future for our planet.

Many thanks to UWs Jackson School of International Studies for the grant to attend the conference. I know that it was a great blessing to me, and it will be beneficial to future recipients as well. As our country is shifting the focus of pre-collegiate education to math and science, and as districts cut funding for social studies, grants like this are vital to the success of social studies teachers across the nation—and to our future as we educate tomorrow’s citizens today.

Jeff Taylor

9th – 12th grade, Cleveland High School
Seattle, WA
I grew up without means or agency. For me the world was a very small, often scary, place. My interest in International Studies is for the benefit of my students. I want them to see the world as a big place; full of opportunities. I want them to think and aspire on a global level.