Mary Skelly, Social Studies Coordinator – Connecticut Technical Education and Career System
Connecticut, USA

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Award recipient and teacher Rachel Riendeau

I’m pleased to announce that the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies recognized a Big History Project colleague for her achievements in promoting social studies education. Rachel Riendeau, from Norwich Technical High School, was awarded the 2018 Excellence in Social Studies Education, 9–12 Award at NERC 48. This award recognizes exceptional classroom social studies teachers in the state of Connecticut.

I work closely with Rachel in my role as Social Studies Coordinator for the Connecticut Career and Technical Education (CTE) System, where Big History is implemented in 17 schools across the ninth grade. I’ve worked closely with BHP staff and BHP teachers from the CT CTE district to support deployment of the course. Through this, I’ve come to know Rachel and can speak to the exemplary social studies teacher and teacher leader she is.

Rachel has taught history and social studies for over 10 years, during which time she has continually demonstrated an ability to develop standards-based materials creatively and effectively, as well as engage students in meaningful and rigorous historical and civic inquiry. Time and again, Rachel has demonstrated professional leadership and outstanding collaboration. She has been instrumental in implementing the Big History Project course in our district. She helped customize the BHP curriculum for the district and provided professional development to teachers during the implementation.

Rachel is also a teacher leader for BHP. In this role, she collaborates with social studies professionals and mentors teachers as they implement the course. She most recently participated in a teacher panel on the impact of BHP on student writing and critical thinking at the Northeast Regional Social Studies Conference in Connecticut. She is an active contributor to the Big History Project online community on Yammer, where she shares best practices, strategies, lessons, and resources. She is always willing to share and collaborate to improve her craft and assist others.

Rachel’s professional career has been devoted to improving teaching and learning, and she is a role model for all educators – preservice, novice, and veteran teachers alike. She has impacted students and teachers on the local, state, and national level. Rachel is committed to ensuring that students continue to benefit from quality history and social studies education.

About the author: Mary Skelly is a social studies consultant with the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System. She has supported a network of 17 CTE high schools with implementation of Big History across the ninth grade. Prior to that, she taught social studies at Norwich Technical High School.

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