Mr. New guides his class through inquiry-based learning

Boyle County High School’s Ryan New was awarded Outstanding National Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council for the Social Studies

SILVER SPRING, Md., (Sept. 28, 2017) -- The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) named Ryan New, a teacher at Boyle County High School in Danville, Kentucky, as Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year. New will be honored at the 97th NCSS Annual Conference in San Francisco in November.

“We are thrilled to honor Mr. New, a teacher committed to preparing his students for college, career and civic life through the use of inquiry-based learning strategies that provide students the tools and thinking skills to independently or collaboratively gain understanding about an issue, assess potential approaches to an issue, and use the gained understandings and knowledge to take informed action,” said NCSS President Terry Cherry.

Established in 1983, this annual award recognizes social studies teachers demonstrating exceptional teaching abilities that include integrating key concepts of the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

“NCSS is proud to honor Mr. New, his dedication to his students, and his passion for fostering inquiry to make social studies learning come alive in his classroom,” said NCSS Executive Director Dr. Lawrence Paska.

New believes that gaining knowledge through investigation, inquiry-based learning, is the cornerstone to students broadening their understandings of themselves and the world. Using the Inquiry Design Model (IDM), a distinctive approach to creating instructional materials, New has developed lessons that enable his students to take control of their own learning, learn to ask questions, utilize sources to derive answers, and communicate their findings and/or take action.

“The process of inquiry is transformative, my role as teacher is not that of holder and provider of knowledge, but rather that of guide in helping every student unlock the messiness of finding out the world for themselves,” said New. 

Throughout the year, New’s students keep a digital portfolio and track reflections and evolving understandings about taking informed action in their class, community, state, and nation. The compelling question, “What makes a good citizen?” has resulted in motivating them to become involved in everything from planning their school’s Veteran’s Day assembly, to helping the local health department inform the community about their new needle exchange program, to participating in the Women’s March the day after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

New has been instrumental in bringing inquiry-based instruction through the use of IDM to the Boyle County School District, which is planning to pilot a deeper learning initiative using the IDM as a vehicle to implement inquiry in other content areas. He also helped write the new “Kentucky Academic Social Studies Standards,” recently had a chapter published in “Teach on Purpose: Responsive Teaching for Student Success,” and has presented at the annual Kentucky Council for the Social Studies (KCSS) Conference and the Kentucky Historical Society Educational Conference. In 2014, New was named as the KCSS high school teacher of the year and in 2016 was elected KCSS President. He was also as a semi-finalist in the Valvoline Kentucky Teacher of the Year contest as one of the top three high school teachers in Kentucky.

New received a Bachelor of Arts in classical studies and history at Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, and holds a Master of Arts in history from Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky, and a Master of Arts in teaching from University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, Kentucky. He is currently pursuing an educational doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Kentucky, Lexington in addition to a master’s degree in leadership at Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, Kentucky.

About the award sponsor: The Newseum promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. NewseumED teaches roughly 26,000 students on-site each year and reaches about 9 million students online with free content related to media literacy, history, civics and the First Amendment. The website hosts 1,000-plus historic front pages, artifacts, videos, lesson plans and more.

Founded in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies is the largest professional association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators. The NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.

NCSS regards social studies as the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

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