Kara Cisco presented with award

Teacher awarded Social Studies teacher of year

Jayde Claussen

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Social studies teacher Kara Cisco speaks to her sixth hour class Jan. 31. The ceremony honoring those awarded will be March 1 at the Mankato Civics Center.

Every year, the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies honors four teachers of the year. This year, social studies teacher Kara Cisco was presented with the award. Cisco said the award has been a positive form of recognition.

“It’s nice to be recognized as a teacher because it’s not a profession that gets recognized by society on a larger scale and so that feels really affirming,” Cisco said. 

Teacher and fellow colleague of Cisco, Dr. Lee-Ann Stephens said she nominated Cisco because her teaching styles are necessary when teaching civics.

“I really appreciate the way she instructs and I believe that she gets students to really think critically about civic issues and issues of what’s going on right now in the world,” Stephens said. “I really believe that she challenges the status quo and utilizes critical consciousness. I think that’s super important with somebody who teaches social studies.”

Cisco said when it comes to teaching she is brave and takes risks when working with students and the subjects they discussed in class.

“The biggest thing for me is that there’s a lot of things that I do in the classroom that could be perceived as courageous or risk taking, in terms of the way we work with the curriculum,” Cisco said. 

I really believe that she challenges the status quo and utilizes critical consciousness. I think that’s super important with somebody who teaches social studies.

— Dr. Lee-Ann Stephens

According to Stephens, Cisco approaches the social studies curriculum in an important way by bringing in real world problems.

“She really is getting students to form their own opinions about societal issues and she’s very courageous. She’s not afraid to broach topics that we tend to shy away from in schools, but topics that are super important, particularly centered around race and social injustices…” Stephens said.  “One of the reasons I just think…what she does needs to be acknowledged and honored,”

Cisco said this award will bring in more options for students to learn in a new environment.

“This will continue to open up opportunities for computing community partnerships because with something like this comes visibility and access to other people in the community that are interested in partnering with me that might not before,” Cisco said. “It will open up more opportunities with arts, integration projects and projects in partnership with the city and just taking more learning outside of the classroom.”

Stephens said this award will support Park’s message of valuing equality and justice for all students. 

“I hope that by winning this award she will be more valued and appreciated for what she brings to our school and for living out what we say is important here. So if we were saying that social justice is important to us, and we’re saying that racial equity is important, then we need to be living that out,” Stephens said. “So that will validate what we believe our mission is, but that she’s actually exemplifying that,”

Cisco and other 2020 Teacher of the Year recipients will be honored at the Minnesota Counsel for the Social Studies (MCSS) Awards Dinner March 1 at the Mankato Civic Center.