Central New York

Council for the Social Studies

Central New York Council for the Social Studies

2023 Annual Conference

Reigniting Passion for the Social Studies in a New Era

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

7:30am - 2:20pm

Location: Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center


A new school year is here and the CNYCSS is excited to welcome back all Social Studies educators! New data released by the NAEP indicates that student knowledge in history and civics has dropped to levels not seen for decades and this negative trajectory predates learning gaps experienced because of the pandemic. The importance of what you bring to the field in collaborative agency and to your students with engaging instruction cannot be overstated. This year’s conference will provide attendees with a variety of sessions focusing on timely topical content, classroom tested & approved pedagogical practices, highly recommended instructional resources, and civic engagement strategies. This year we have also created a full day offering designed specifically for our Elementary educators, in addition to the great offerings suited to our teachers at higher grade levels. We look forward to seeing you there and please share news of our event with your administrators and colleagues. 

Click here for downloadable pamphlet - COMING SOON!

Keynote Presentation

Benefits to a Documentary-Focused History Study

Bill Muench (Director) & Todd Hobin (Composer)

 The Artist and the Astronaut

The Artist & the Astronaut tells the unlikely love story between the artist Pat Musick, a civil rights activist, and the Apollo astronaut Jerry Carr as they participate in some of the most historic events in human history. The film is filled with never-before-seen footage of the early space pioneers and features interviews with key figures from that era. It chronicles Pat and Jerry’s vastly different paths as they traverse uncertain times, eventually coming together to render some of America’s most enduring art. The Artist & the Astronaut is an uplifting love story proving that curiosity, perseverance, and empathy for others can be powerful agents of change.

The story of the making of this documentary is as unlikely as the story depicted in the film. Bill Muench, a full-time teacher, and basketball coach, at the urging of his wife, decides to make a documentary on a local Vermont couple. He embarked on this journey with no plan or budget. In the next six years, he traveled to nine states and two continents to interview numerous Apollo Astronauts, their wives, award-winning authors, artists, art historians, and even NASA directors of mission control. Eventually teaming with music legend, Todd Hobin, they produce a story that otherwise would have never been told.

“A film this breathtaking and endearing should be seen by everyone. Its themes include civil rights, women’s rights, Native American issues, and preserving our environment.  It speaks to the importance of science and engineering while underlining the power and beauty of sharing important ideas through art.”

Using clips from the award winning documentary, Bill Muench and composer Todd Hobin will discuss the joy of talking to people who lived through historic events. They will also discuss how clips from a documentary can be a teaser to inspire a deeper dive into the topic.


7:30 am to 8:25 am

8:35 am to 9:40 am

9:40 am to 10:00 am

10:00 am to 10:50 am

11:00 am to 11:50 am

12:00 pm to 1:20 pm

1:30 pm to 2:20 pm

Registration and Continental Breakfast

Keynote Address

Please Visit Community Connections Row

Session A Presentations

Session B Presentations

Lunch with Awards Recognition 

Session C Presentations



A1: Using Literature and Trade Books to Teach Social Studies Content and Skills
       Donna Merlau, Education Consultant

This session is for K-12 teachers and administrators.  We will discuss and I will model using excerpts and read aloud stories to gain student attention, ignite their curiosity, and build their empathy skills. I will discuss how to connect books to the framework, standards, and social studies practices by engaging with selected excerpts and read aloud stories. Picture books, middle-level books, young adult books and others will be circulated among participants as they are discussed. Participants will be asked to suggest excerpts of books and read aloud stories they have successfully used in their classrooms.

A2: The Russo-Ukraine War   
       Brian Taylor, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, Maxwell School - Syracuse University

The CNYCSS asked Dr. Taylor to speak on the war in Ukraine where the conflict stands at the time of the conference. Dr. Taylor is the Director of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs and Senior Research Associate at the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration. His areas of research and interest focus on Russian politics, comparative state building, Russian security policy, and Vladimir Putin. Dr. Taylor’s presentation will discuss the origins of the Russo-Ukraine War, the course of its development since the February 2022 full-scale Russian invasion, and the prospects for the war going forward.

A3: Why Students Forget and How to Help Them Remember
        Amy Pento, Instructional Specialist Liverpool SD

Students forget — a lot. While we typically think of ‘forgetting’ as a problem related to past learning, it also limits future learning. In this session, you will learn how and why people forget so quickly, how learning happens, and a bit about the role background knowledge plays in learning. Having this information can help you decide where to put your time and energy as well as find things to eliminate.

A4: Elementary ELA and Social Studies for a Better Tomorrow! – Part 1

Nick Stamoulacatos, Director of Social Studies - Syracuse City School District
Ellie Leach, Social Studies Instructional Coach - Syracuse City School District
Colleen Mayberry, Elementary Social Studies Integration Coach - Syracuse City School District  
Laura Jackson, Humanities Coach - Syracuse City School District

All Day session will allow K-5 teachers to explore materials and curriculum done in an integrative approach to address ELA next Generation Literacy and Social Studies Standards.  Teachers will have an opportunity to dive deep into already created units of study to use in their classrooms!  They will also have an opportunity to explore mentor texts that are rich in social studies content while focusing on concepts of vocabulary, oral language and comprehension.  Most importantly teachers will examine how these units of study address basic social studies skills for student success beyond their K-5 education.  

Part 1- Why humanities?  Explore the scheduling and logistical implications of creating a combined social studies and ELA block in Elementary School.  In this session we will look at the Syracuse City School District’s process to create a humanities block and investigate what the research says about how teaching social studies in elementary can improve outcomes.


B1: The Coming Revolution: Preparing for the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution
       Rich Strum, Director of Academic Programs - Fort Ticonderoga; Tim Potts, Monticello High School

The 250th anniversary of the American Revolution is just around the corner and provides numerous opportunities to incorporate the anniversary into your Social Studies classroom. Rich Strum from Fort Ticonderoga and Tim Potts from Monticello High School share strategies for exploring the Revolution using documents, provide a preview of 250th initiatives, and unveiling Fort Ticonderoga’s REAL TIME REVOLUTION™ approach to the anniversary.

B2: New Challenges to the Teaching and Application of Media and Popular Culture in the Social Studies Classroom
     Robert Thompson, Professor, Syracuse University

The last time Professor Thompson talked at the CNYCSS conference about popular culture in the curriculum was in 2006. A lot has changed since then. Although American media is now providing a rich and abundant trove of exceptional material, fragmentation of the audience and contentious scrutiny of public education has made it much more difficult to make use of this material.

B3: Expanding Collaboration to promote Students' College, Career and Civic Readiness
      Derrick Dorsey, CNY School Board Association

Join Central New York School Board Association's Executive Director, Derrick Dorsey, for a conversation about how teachers, administrators and school boards can work together to create great environments for student success.  Mr. Dorsey will discuss some of the initiatives that need our collaboration and how social studies can be a force for transformation in our schools.

B4: Elementary ELA and Social Studies for a Better Tomorrow! – Part 2       
      Nick Stamoulacatos, Director of Social Studies - Syracuse City School District
       Ellie Leach, Social Studies Instructional Coach - Syracuse City School District        
       Colleen Mayberry, Elementary Social Studies Integration Coach - Syracuse City School District  
      Laura Jackson, Humanities Coach - Syracuse City School District

What instructional strategies help students achieve in the humanities block?  Consider and practice a few strategies that help students to become better readers and writers in the humanities.  You will be introduced to the grade appropriate strategies and have time to digest and practice their implementation.


C1: Equitable Media Literacy: Implications for Social Studies
      Dr. Srivi Ramasubramanian, Newhouse Professor and Endowed Chair, Communications, Newhouse School of Public           
       Communications – Syracuse University

This presentation will connect DEI and media literacy, with a special focus on social studies curriculum and civic engagement. It takes a trauma-informed, equity-minded, asset-based approach to curriculum and classrooms. Using an interactive field guide, it offers practical guidance to educators on developing more inclusive and critically conscious media practices among learners.

C2: Democracy and the United States Supreme Court
     Jenny Breen, Associate Professor of Law, Syracuse University College of Law

Does the U.S. Supreme Court strengthen our democracy or weaken in? This session will offer one response to that question grounded in the social science research on democratic erosion around the world.

C3: Six Simple Things to Get Students Thinking Harder and Learning More
     Laurie Ovadia, Social Studies Teacher - Liverpool SD

Do you feel like you are working way harder than your students? Are you frustrated that students understand and retain so little of what you teach (or of your lessons)?  I've incorporated several evidence-based practices into my teaching that have made a world of difference in my classes. In this session, I'll share six simple strategies I use that reduce students' cognitive load. As a result, students are able to think harder about the content and learn more.  These strategies can be used in any content area and in any grade level.

C4: Elementary ELA and Social Studies for a Better Tomorrow! – Part 3 
        Nick Stamoulacatos, Director of Social Studies - Syracuse City School District
        Ellie Leach, Social Studies Instructional Coach - Syracuse City School District 
        Colleen Mayberry, Elementary Social Studies Integration Coach - Syracuse City School District  
Laura Jackson, Humanities Coach - Syracuse City School District

Take a deep dive into the text and instructional materials of an example unit for each grade of K-5 humanities.  You will leave with all of the materials necessary to teach this unit at your school with the exception of the trade books.

The final day for advance registration is October 15th, 2023

$140 - Current Member* Registration (by Oct. 15th)

$165 - Current Member* Late Registration (Oct. 16th or later)

$70 - Full-Time Student* Registration (by Oct. 15th)

$95 - Full-Time Student* Late Registration (Oct. 16th or later)

CTLE forms can be picked up at the Registration Table at the conclusion of the conference.

If your payment is outstanding at the time of the conference, please bring cash or check payment (made out to "CNYCSS") with you to the conference.  NO PURCHASE ORDERS PLEASE.  If you are bringing payment with you the day of the conference you will need to go to the "Solutions" section of the Registration Table. 

Please e-mail Kristina Jeanneret with questions regarding conference registration and/or payment.

*Only current members of CNYCSS can register for this conference. Please begin or renew your membership before registering for the conference.


(click here for printable mail-in registration form - COMING SOON!)

Conference Chair:

Troy Killian

Community Connections Row Coordinator:

Mary Duffin

CNYCSS is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. New York. 2657 East Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13224.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software