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CCU education project wins prestigious national award

October 5, 2006

A social studies kit for middle school teachers designed by a group of Coastal Carolina University students and faculty members has won the Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award, an annual award given by the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS).

The project, "Native American History in a Box," is a comprehensive, five-day unit that includes lesson plans, teacher content guides, worksheets, overheads and other visual aids. Developed by graduate students Adam Jones and Jason Schipper with CCU education professors Emory Helms and Austin Hitt, the project contains instruction guidelines on such topics as early migration and settlement, tools, sustenance and early Native American contact with Europeans. Terry Hooks and R. Walter Hill of the Horry County Museum also contributed to the project, which includes material on the Coastal Plains Indian tribes of the Carolinas.

The Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award is given to the project that improves social studies education, fosters enlightened citizenship and promotes civic competence. The award includes a $1,500 stipend.

Schipper and Jones both graduated from Coastal's Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T) program in 2006 and are now teaching social studies in area high schools. They, together with Helms and Hitt, will be officially recognized at the NCSS annual conference on Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C. The project will also be a featured presentation of the NCSS National Conference in San Diego in 2007.

Helms, chair of secondary programs including the M.A.T. program in Coastal's Spadoni College of Education, says that this project is the beginning of a series of social studies unit kits that will address a variety of topics. "Civil War Technology: History in a Box," the second project in the series, will be presented at the 2006 South Carolina Science Council Conference in November.

Although the lessons were originally created to be used in middle school classrooms, Helms says they can be adapted to apply to any age level and that all the materials and lessons adhere to state and national standards for social studies education.