Through a generous grant provided by the Polk County Community Foundation, five Polk County social studies and history teachers traveled in late November to Austin, Tex. to participate in the 99th annual National Council for the Social Studies Conference.

Paula Brown and Eric Eaton from Polk County Middle School and Jenny Lail, Cindi Rhodes, and Sam Vining from Polk County High School represented Polk County at the annual national meeting.

The conference is a gathering of more than 7,000 social sciences professionals from across the nation and globe as a way to learn about the latest research, teaching techniques, and professional opportunities to help foster growth in students’ learning of the social sciences. Austin provided the backdrop for various sessions on topics from local archaeology, geography and history to global geopolitical issues.

Teachers also had opportunities to network with other education professionals from all 50 states to see what research, resources and techniques they are utilizing with success in grade kindergarten through the college level.

“The opportunity to see what is happening in the social sciences is critical in helping our students become engaged and informed citizens,” Eaton said. “Any time teachers can network and share ideas with other professionals outside of North Carolina it is a golden opportunity that will positively impact student learning.”

“Experiencing the culture of a new urban city was educational,” Lail said. “Attending classes strengthened content knowledge and lent exposure to new exciting teaching strategies. Doing all with colleagues helped build unique bonds and grow relationships throughout our district and beyond. Our community is truly blessed with a unique educator support system for which I am thankful”.

Brown echoed these sentiments. “I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to attend a national conference,” she said. “The resources gained and connections made at the conference will have a profound impact on the quality of instruction I will be able to provide my students. It was, by far, one of the best experiences in my teaching career and I walked away with exciting new ways to empower and engage my students.”