Sari Bennett Receives National Council for the Social Studies Award

"How can students be citizens of the world if they don't have the background they need to know about its people and its places?" asks Sari Bennett, clinical associate professor of geography and environmental systems and a longtime advocate for strengthening the teaching of geography at the K-12 level.

On December 2, Bennett, coordinator for the Maryland Geographic Alliance--which has worked with over 12,000 K-12 teachers since 1989--will receive the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Outstanding Service Award. It honors exceptional service in support of K-16 social studies at the national and local levels.

A member of the National Council for the Social Studies and the Maryland Council for the Social Studies (MDCSS), Bennett has made contributions to the social studies profession at the local, state and national levels. She has been a member of MDCSS for more than 20 years and has served as its president and executive director. At the state level, she has served on numerous committees including the Social Studies Taskforce of the Maryland State Department of Education and has worked on the development of social studies content standards and the Voluntary State Curriculum. At the national level, Bennett has been a three-time program co-chair for the NCSS Annual Conference.

The Maryland Geographic Alliance, jointly funded by the State of Maryland and the National Geographic Society, develops lesson plans and other materials for teachers to use in their classrooms, and presents workshops and summer institutes.

Currently, Bennett and the Maryland Geographic Alliance are working with Sultana Projects, Inc. on lesson plans for the John Smith Four Hundred Project, which will retrace Captain John Smith's 1608 Chesapeake expedition. In addition, they were asked by the Maryland State Department of Education to create educational materials and lesson plans for this year's 300th anniversary of the Port of Baltimore. Previous projects include a collaborative project with Tom Rabenhorst, senior lecturer in geography and environmental systems at UMBC, and his students on a digital atlas of Maryland for 4th graders.