Each year, the Maryland Council for Social Studies honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to social studies education in the State of Maryland. Our 2013 Award winners are:
Elementary Social Studies Educator of the Year
Kristen Lutjen, Hollifield Station Elementary School in Howard County.
Secondary Social Studies Educator of the Year
Bruce Lesh, Franklin High School in Baltimore County
Outstanding Instructional Leader
George Toepfer, Supervisor of Social Studies for Harford County
Outstanding Professional at a Social Studies-Related Organization
Judy Dobbs, History Day Program Officer at the Maryland Humanities Council
To read more about these awards and award winners, click on the “Read More” tab.
More about our winners
The Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year must be a current elementary educator who has made a significant contribution to social studies in a public or private Maryland school. The recipient must have exhibited outstanding professional qualities in working with students, colleagues, and the community.
This year, the Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year is Kristen Lutjen from Hollifield Station Elementary School in Howard County. Despite the pressure at the elementary level to focus on math and ELA at the expense of social studies, Ms. Lutjen has made it a priority to provide her students with high-quality social studies instruction. After volunteering to help bring the Simulated Congressional Hearings to her school in 2003, Ms. Lutjen built a program that has endured and, as a member of the Simulated Congressional Hearings Cadre of Mentors, she has supported other schools as they initiated their own programs. To hone her abilities as a social studies educator, she has participated in numerous professional development opportunities, including her county’s three-year Teaching American History program and the We the People Summer Institute at Montpelier.
Mrs. Lisa Booth, Principal of Hollifield Elementary, wrote, “I’ve been observing Miss Lutjen for over five years as her principal, and can attest to her skill, enthusiasm and the genuine passion she brings to the subject. Watching Miss Lutjen teach a social studies lesson is to see instruction delivered with joy and creativity. Her knowledge of social studies is detailed and accurate, and Miss Lutjen makes any topic come alive for the students.”
The Maryland Council for Social Studies is thrilled to honor Kristen Lutjen as 2013 Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
The Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year must also have made a significant contribution to social studies in a Maryland school and have exhibited outstanding professional qualities. This year’s recipient, Bruce Lesh of Franklin High School in Baltimore County, has done all of that and much more!
Mr. Lesh has not only dedicated himself to providing his own students with the best possible social studies instruction, he has made it his mission to ensure that history is taught well to all students. Through presentations at the local, state, and national levels he has brought a practical application of his classroom strategies – especially the incorporation of primary sources — to many teachers. He has published widely on the subject, including units for the Center for Learning and contributions to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s History Now online journal. In 2011, he published Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer? Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12, which has afforded him the opportunity to travel to over 20 states providing professional development for hundreds of teachers. In the late 1990s, he worked closely with the Maryland State Department of Education to develop the content standards for World and United States History, and he was co-founder of the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he was instrumental to the administration of seven Teaching American History grants. In addition, Mr. Lesh has served the Maryland Council for Social Studies as President and the National Council for History Education as Vice-Chair. And he has done all this while leading the social studies department at Franklin High School.
The Maryland Council of Social Studies is pleased to honor Bruce Lesh as the 2013 Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
Our first new award category this year goes to an outstanding Instructional Leader. The recipient must be a social studies supervisor, resource teacher, or other instructional leader in a Maryland school system who has made outstanding contributions to curriculum and/or resource development, professional development, or system-wide organization. Our recipient this year is George Toepfer, Supervisor of Social Studies for Harford County.
Mr. Toepfer is not the sort of school system administrator to sit comfortably at his desk all day. His teachers commend his exceptional commitment to getting out to the schools and providing teachers with coaching that makes them feel valued and supported. He works tirelessly to improve the social studies curriculum and strengthen the position of social studies in the county despite competing pressures. And as a member of the Maryland Social Studies Advisory Council, he helps to defend the position of social studies statewide as well.
The Maryland Council for Social Studies presents the 2013 Award for Instructional Leader of the Year to George Toepfer.
Professional at a Social Studies-Related Organization
This year, the Maryland Council for Social Studies has also added an award to Outstanding Professional at a Social Studies-Related Organization in order to recognize the important contributions to social studies education made by individuals working outside of school buildings. The recipient must be a current professional at an organization whose mission is closely related to the field of social studies, such as a historic site, history museum social studies educational alliance, or social studies advocacy organization. The recipient must have exhibited outstanding professional qualities in working with students, teachers, and/or the community in the areas of education and/or advocacy.
The MDCSS is thrilled to present the award to Outstanding Professional at a Social Studies-Related Organization to Judy Dobbs, Program Officer at the Maryland Humanities Council. Since 1999, Ms. Dobbs has coordinated the state’s History Day program, increasing participation in this critical program from 3,258 students in 9 jurisdictions that year to 19,166 students from 18 jurisdictions in 2013. Through her work over the past 15 years, she has touched the lives of an estimated 178,667 middle and high school history students in Maryland.
History Day is a very powerful program for all involved, and Ms. Dobbs has dedicated an enormous amount of her energy to those individuals. As one teacher said in an anonymous survey, “The program is superbly organized from the bottom up. It provides excellent support for academic instruction of the state standards while encouraging and guiding students through the research process. I can depend on this program to be comprehensive and enriching.” Ms. Dobss appreciates the transformative power of this long-term research project more than anyone, and loves it when students finally grasp it as well. One student said, “Before I participated in History Day, my outlook on history itself was that it was only about the hard facts, names and dates. History Day has taught me that understanding history is more about the ‘what,’ the ‘why,’ and the ‘how’ rather than the ‘who,’ the ‘when,’ and the ‘how many.’ Now, I understand that, for example, how many people died in the war is not always as important as how those deaths and the war impacted the society and culture or even the world as we know it.”
The Maryland Council for Social Studies is pleased to honor Judy Dobbs as the 2013 Outstanding Professional at a Social Studies-Related Organization.
Congratulations to all of our 2013 award recipients!