California Council for the Social Studies
Serving K-16 Educators Statewide
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Professional Award Winners

2020

 2020 TEACHER of the YEAR AWARD WINNERS

Kimberlee Holz

The CCSS Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year

As a 2019 California Teacher of the Year, Kim Holz feels strongly about singing the praises of elementary school educators and the complex components that comprise each day.  Balanced Literacy, Cognitively Guided Instruction in math, Number Talks, writing across the curriculum, Personalized Learning, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) are all components of Kim’s daily practices.  Kim is most passionate, however, about History-Social Science and her teaching of fourth grade California history.  Through an integrated History-Social Science Curriculum, learners can interact with primary source documents, write passionately using a Document Based Question format, read both historical fiction and informational texts, and experience the visual and performing arts through a rich, integrated curriculum that is motivating and accessible to all learners. Kim has taught all grades and has served as a master and mentor teacher during her career.  She currently teaches fourth grade at Opal Robinson Elementary in Manhattan Beach Unified School District. 

The purpose of the CCSS Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year is to recognize an educator whose classroom teachings in grades K-6 and whose professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education. 

Lindsey Charron

The CCSS Outstanding Middle School Social Studies Teacher of the Year

 

As a 2019 California Teacher of the Year, Kim Holz feels strongly about singing the praises of elementary school educators and the complex components that comprise each day.  Balanced Literacy, Cognitively Guided Instruction in math, Number Talks, writing across the curriculum, Personalized Learning, and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) are all components of Kim’s daily practices.  Kim is most passionate, however, about History-Social Science and her teaching of fourth grade California history.  Through an integrated History-Social Science Curriculum, learners can interact with primary source documents, write passionately using a Document Based Question format, read both historical fiction and informational texts, and experience the visual and performing arts through a rich, integrated curriculum that is motivating and accessible to all learners. Kim has taught all grades and has served as a master and mentor teacher during her career.  She currently teaches fourth grade at Opal Robinson Elementary in Manhattan Beach Unified School District. 

The purpose of the CCSS Outstanding Middle School Social Studies Teacher of the Year is to recognize an educator whose classroom teachings in middle school grades and whose professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education. 

Erik Christensen

The CCSS Outstanding Rookie Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Erik Christensen is a fourth year high school teacher at Granada Hills Charter in Los Angeles. He co-teaches 3 sections of Big History to a diverse group of 10th graders including approximately 35% special education students.  Additionally, he teaches AP Seminar to 11th grade students and Government and Economics to 12th grade students. Literacy development, differentiated assessment, and student collaboration are constant themes in his classroom. Erik has won numerous awards for his work with students, developed globally published instructional materials, and presented at NCSS. When he is not in the classroom, Erik enjoys exploring the American West with his family.

The purpose of the CCSS Outstanding Rookie Social Studies Teacher of the Year is to recognize an educator with one to five years of experience whose classroom teachings in grades K-12 and whose professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education. 

 

Gabriela Goldstein

The CCSS Outstanding High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Gabriela Goldstein is a High School Social Studies teacher. After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in History and being the first in her family to graduate from college, she received her M.A. in History. Mrs.Goldstein is an integral part of her school community as both a leader and a team member.  Additionally, she sponsors several clubs, making her classroom "home" to many of her students. Her efforts have lead to earning several awards and standing out both as a teacher and an AP instructor. Her ultimate goal is to develop students that believe in themselves, are critical thinkers, and will work to create a better future.

The purpose of the CCSS Outstanding Secondary Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year is to recognize an educator whose classroom teachings in grades 7-12 and whose professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education.   

Benjamin Bergstrom

The CCSS Outstanding High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Whether students are throwing paper airplanes into hula hoops to simulate market economies, eating Snickers till they get stomachaches to show diminishing marginal utility, or running a campaign to become President of the United States, students are engaged. And if students are engaged, they are learning. His teaching philosophy is loosely based on Maya Angelou’s words that people will forget what you said or did but will not forget how you made them feel. He is blessed to work at HArts Academy surrounded by outstanding teachers and administrators. Benjamin Bergstrom is an Economics and Government teacher at HArts Academy and has been teaching for 13 years.

The purpose of the CCSS Outstanding Secondary Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year is to recognize an educator whose classroom teachings in grades 7-12 and whose professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education.   

 2020 SPECIALIZED EDUCATOR of the YEAR AWARD WINNERS

Adam Wemmer

The CCSS Outstanding Higher Education Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Adam Wemmer has been a secondary history teacher for 22 years in the Garden Grove Unified School District, and for the past 9 years an adjunct lecturer in History Education at CSULB.   He has written several curriculums for California 11th Grade US History teachers, including "Economic Citizenship: Teaching the Great Depression and New Deal" and "Para Todos Los Ninos: Mexican Americans and Mendez v. Westminster." This year he co-wrote the 11th Grade lessons for the "California Counts" curriculum to promote increased census participation in our state.

This award recognizes an educator whose higher education instruction and professional practices reflect the goals and purposes of an exemplary social studies education.

 

Bruce Baron

The CCSS Hilda Talba Award Winner

 

Bruce began his educational career with the National Teacher Corps program, went on to teach history at all three instructional levels, and later became a school principal at two levels. The Irvine school that Bruce was principal of received the #1 Ranking of all OC middle schools by the Orange County Register. In the 1980s/1990s, Bruce worked to address and ameliorate inter-ethnic tensions at schools in Southern California and was recognized by the O.C. Human Relations Commission as Educator of the Year. In the 1980s, Bruce co-authored, What Did You Learn In School Today, published by Warner Books and Consumer Reports and was endorsed by groups ranging from the College Board and National PTA, to the National Institute for Education. 
Bruce has taught at UC Irvine for close to two dozen years, with alumni now holding numerous History Department Chair positions, teaching the History/Social Science Methods class at two universities, and others coordinating several CHSSP

This award is named for Hilda Taba, a university professor at San Francisco State University who significantly influenced education and is internationally renown for her work in “concept development” in the social studies.  The Taba Award is CCSS's highest honor, and is awarded to a Californian who has made a significant contribution to social studies education in California.  

Jeff Hittenberger

The Diane L. Brooks Administrative Award Winner

Jeff Hittenberger serves as Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE).  He earned a PhD from the University of Southern California with an emphasis on International Education and has worked on international education projects and done research or consulting in Cameroon, Mali, Togo, South Africa, Israel, and Haiti, and was involved in an education exchange program in China.  He previously taught History in Santa Ana, served on faculty at Vanguard University, and is now facilitating the Mendez Freedom Trail and Tribute Monument project, with the City of Westminster, and the Orange County Civic Learning Partnership.

This award recognizes an educator an administrator at the district, state or local level who has contributed significantly to the profession of social studies education.  

 

Whitney Olson

The CCSS Ruth Delzell Outstanding Service Award Winner

Whitney Olson is the executive director of the California Foundation for History Education and the coordinator for National History Day in California. Whitney has 21 years experience supporting educators with teaching historical inquiry by delivering presentations and offering professional development workshops throughout the state. Supporting teachers as they shift their classrooms to doing history instead of learning history has been the focus of her mentoring and presentations. In 2011, Mrs. Olson was the recipient of the History Channel Educator of the Year Award.

This award recognizes CCSS members whose dedication on both state and local levels has contributed significantly to the CCSS organization and to the profession of social studies education. 

Leslie Gombrich

The CCSS Social Justice and Diversity Award

My BA is in History and MA is in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from CSULB.  I have taught at Millikan High School for 25 years and have taught Modern World History: “International Negotiations” and developed a U.S. History class cored w/ American Literature:“Focus on Women”.  For the last eight years, I have also taught AP United States History. Steve Dublin and I created the PEACE Academy, a Social Justice, Small Learning Community.  For a decade as the PEACE Lead Teacher, I helped it gain certification by ConnectEd in 2011.  I am currently the History Dept. Co-Chair.

Whether students are throwing paper airplanes into hula hoops to simulate market economies, eating Snickers till they get stomachaches to show diminishing marginal utility, or running a campaign to become President of the United States, students are engaged. And if students are engaged, they are learning. His teaching philosophy is loosely based on Maya Angelou’s words that people will forget what you said or did but will not forget how you made them feel. He is blessed to work at HArts Academy surrounded by outstanding teachers and administrators. Benjamin Bergstrom is an Economics and Government teacher at HArts Academy and has been teaching for 13 years.

This award recognizes educators in elementary, middle, high school, and university and college level who have advocated for women, the LGBTQ community, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, immigrants, disabled people, and people of diverse religious, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds in their classrooms and their communities. 

Kasandra 

The CCSS Social Justice and Diversity Student Award

 Mary Ann Dewan

The CCSS Roy Erickson Civic Education Leadership Award

Dr. Dewan is the Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. She has served in education over 30 years. Dr. Dewan believes that all students deserve high quality, equitable, and inclusive education. She serves on a number of committees and boards and promotes effective system’s change at local, county, and state levels. Dr. Dewan is recognized for her work in early learning, data driven decision-making, special education, education reform, change leadership, and for her commitment to serving the community and underserved, vulnerable youth. She is leading countywide efforts to achieve equity and access to high quality civic education and engagement through the Power of Democracy Initiative, in partnership with cross-county agencies advocating and organizing authentic youth voice. 

This award recognizes a California educational leader legislator, or community/organization leader who has made notable contributions toward promoting or implementing civic learning in California schools to prepare students to be engaged and responsible citizens.   

 

Amanda Bush

The CCSS Carol Marquis Global Understanding Award

Amanda  has worked at Norte Vista High School developing a global education program from the ground up including a leadership course dedicated to the Sustainability Goals and student driven solutions.  She has helped to bridge the gap between high school and university through collaborative efforts in student seminars, participating on professional panels and leading teacher trainings.  She currently is a teacher leader for the California Global Education Project (CGEP) at CSU Fullerton and serves as a board member.  She is a dedicated volunteer and community leader in her area assisting the homeless, veterans and international relations.

This award recognizes aCalifornia educator who has made notable contributions in helping social studies students increase their understanding of the world.   

 

Leslie C. (Les) Francis

The CCSS Partnership Development & Government Relations Committee

Civic Action Award