[Retired Faculty] Dr. Dale Simmons received his B.S. and M.A. degrees in History from Appalachian State University in 1970 and 1972 respectively. He earned his Ed.D (Curriculum and Teaching) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1984. From 1974-2004, he served as chairperson and teacher in the History Department at Hibriten High School in Lenoir, NC. He retired from Caldwell County Schools in 2004. He has also served as an instructor and adjunct professor in both the Reich College of Education and the Department of History at Appalachian. He has taught at Lenoir-Rhyne University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.
From 2006-2019, Dr. Simmons served as an Academic Supervisor and Consultant in the Department of History at ASU, helping numerous student teachers gain the confidence to succeed in the history/social studies classroom.
Why does history/social studies education matter?
Dale Simmons: The study of history and social studies, in the end, underpins the total education of our students. People do not, and basically cannot, live in isolation from their fellow human beings. As the world becomes more complicated and smaller in terms of interrelationships, daily life is more difficult to maneuver. The solutions to the inevitable and timeless challenges to humankind more and more demand a well-informed and objective citizenry. Ours is a toxic society where truth and fact are challenged daily and where the amount of information available through social media is many times inaccurate and heavily biased. The task of the social studies teacher is to help students learn to think on higher levels, to question, to reflect, and to draw conclusions based on careful and objective analysis of the material and information placed before them in the classroom. Students must not only master the social studies content, but the vital social studies skills as well. The very future of American society, and in effect civilization itself, depends on success in this area.
What do you see as the most important issue facing public school educators in North Carolina today?
DS: Governing institutions in North Carolina today have continued to enact laws and adopt policies that discourage rather than encourage people from entering the teaching profession. From low pay, to underfunding of schools, to the lapse of monetary reward for those who seek to gain additional degrees, to the continued increase of funds to untested and in many ways, unaccountable charter schools, public education is under attack from the very body whose constitutional duty is to support it. Politics has long been intertwined in the success or failure of public education. To fix the current dilemmas, political action will be the tool required to bring about a redress to the problems currently facing North Carolina schools.
What do you most enjoy about working with our student teachers?
DS: My experience in working with student teachers spans a period of almost 45 years. As a classroom supervising teacher, College of Education supervisor, and academic consultant, I have worked with student teachers in all grades K-12. During my tenure as Academic Consultant, I have enjoyed helping my student teachers see the “bigger picture” of history and social studies which helps them build their own perspectives necessary to make the lessons they teach relevant to their students. This is an on-going process, and I strongly encourage student teachers to continue the process of individual research and study. As I tell them, this is a career long endeavor. Their accumulation of additional knowledge and their day to day experiences in the classroom will, as years go by, help mold them into effective teachers. I am privileged to witness the beginning of their transition from student teacher to teacher by the conclusion of their semester experience in the field.