Boyle teacher named secondary social studies teacher of the year

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Ryan New, social studies teacher at Boyle County High School, explains how to teach controversial topics in social studies classes during the Kentucky History Education Conference. New says that creating a space where all students feel comfortable to express their ideas, no matter how controversial, teaches student to be able to discuss issues and listen to other's points of view.
Ryan New, a social studies teacher at Boyle County High School, has been named Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council for the Social Studies.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, July 13, 2017

Ryan New, a social studies teacher at Boyle County High School, has been named Outstanding Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). The award recognizes social studies teachers who demonstrate exceptional teaching abilities that include integrating key concepts of the College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

New, one of three teachers of the year chosen annually by NCSS, will receive a $2,500 award when he is recognized Nov. 17 at the NCSS Annual Conference in San Francisco.

New was named high school teacher of the year by the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies (KCSS) and was elected KCSS president in 2016. He was a semifinalist for the 2018 Valvoline Kentucky Teacher of the Year award.

In a recent Kentucky Teacher story, New said he 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, he 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,” New said. 

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 schools, which are piloting a deeper learning initiative using the IDM as a vehicle to implement inquiry in other content areas.

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