Kara Lofthouse is an active member of the educational community in the Sacramento area as the History-Social Science lead teacher for Folsom Cordova Unified School District. She serves twenty elementary schools, four middle schools, five high schools and five alternative education sites. In this role she is leading the district wide adoption process of a new social science curriculum, professional development for district teachers, implementation of the new framework and the development of a district wide guaranteed and viable curriculum, as well as assistance in administering research affirmed practices when teaching history and social science in all K-12 classrooms. As a strong advocate for student-centered learning, which focus on providing students the support to become college, career and civics ready through the history and social science curriculum, she continues to emphasize the importance in the age appropriate social emotional learning to go hand in hand with our cross curricular content to support our students needs and successes. Through this work, Kara has worked closely with key stakeholders, including, teachers, students, administrators, community members, superintendents, county specialists, and curriculum development teams from across the country.
Prior to the lead teacher role, Kara served as a middle school classroom teacher, administrator and director of activities in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. She helped open the middle school of a charter school in Natomas Unified School District. There she spent five years in the classroom, helping to develop curriculum, grading systems and sound teaching practices. Kara began her teaching career at the middle and high school levels in the Elk Grove Unified School District though started her time in the classroom while helping develop a bridging program to link students from Sac City Unified School District to the State University while she was getting her bachelors.
Kara holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies from California State University, Sacramento. She also holds her administrative credential and plans to continue her own educational growth in relationship to curriculum and instruction.
My philosophy as a social science teacher has always been to engage students in their learning through inquiry, show relevancy through real-world connections, and use cross-curricular instruction to shape college, career and civic minded humans after leaving my classroom. The California Council for Social Science (CCSS) has helped shape me into this type of educator and with its local councils, the opportunity to do the same for many other teachers and students is there, we just must take the opportunity and make it known. I would like CCSS to increase membership, organization, influence and its work in the instructional shifts we should be embracing with the California History Social Science Framework.
With the recent executive order reducing the role of the federal government in education and giving the states and local school districts more power over decision making, CCSS is in a unique position and can potentially play an even larger role in helping to shape educational policy by continuing and expanding the work of the past to influence educational policy in California. By organizing and expanding membership in our local councils we would have the ability to collect the voice of many history-social science teachers throughout the state and become an invaluable asset to the California Department of Education. As we have seen from current events, a well-rounded understanding of history, civics, and economics is imperative to the preservation of our democracy and the values of our society, yet it continues to be the most undervalued and possibly misunderstood core curriculum in education today.
Social studies is often the core subject area that receives the least amount of funding and supports in the districts and schools, although the critical skills required to respond to a 21st century world such as: critical thinking skills, applied knowledge, communication skills and citizenship skills are easily delivered in Social Studies content and instructional strategies through a meaningful and relevant curriculum that engages students. There is no other subject area that provides students the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare them for college, career and civic life as well as History and Social Science.
History-Social Science curriculum allows inherent cross-curricular opportunities from ELA, Math, Science and World Languages and I would love CCSS to help educators maintain a focus on relevant and meaningful learning experiences by taking on a cross-curricular approach that blends all subject matters for one common objective. CCSS could provide leadership, guidance and professional development opportunities that are History-Social Science focused beyond just the annual conference. Through local councils, as well as at the state level, it has the potential to become a professional learning community that brings together educators around the state of California on many occasions. CCSS has the ability to provide educators with the support they need to remain current, relevant and meaningful in the classroom as well as address any challenges we may face. One area of focus CCSS could currently address would be accountability and authentic assessment. Because the state does not have a “state assessment” for history-social science as it currently stands, CCSS could be a proponent for authentic assessments, support performance assessments at the state level, provide guidance to the state on best practices, and guide teachers into this model for their classrooms.
If selected to serve as a CCSS Board Member, I look forward to working with CCSS, the CCSS Board of Directors, the CCSS staff and our outstanding membership in a collaborative and professional effort to play an active role in its advocacy and continued growth.