Hayley McCulloch ('19) wants to help students think critically about the world they live in, and she sees the study of history as a way of helping adolescents forge a more equitable society. A native of Midway, in Davidson County, Hayley quickly found her footing in the Department of History, connecting with many faculty members and engaging in conversations with them about how to teach history. She chose App State primarily because of the strength of its education programs and the reputation of the Reich College of Education. She also liked the smaller class sizes in Boone compared to other campuses like Chapel Hill.
At first, though, Hayley wasn't sure of which area to specialize in education. “My goal as a freshman was to shop around,” she recalls, “by taking different courses and getting to know the faculty.” Although many courses in the College of Education were helpful, their primary focus on elementary education eventually led her to consider other licensure areas. She soon felt pulled to secondary education and history/social studies in particular. App State’s History Education Program (HEP) has been fantastic , according to Hayley. Its courses and programs, like CLIO TALKS, have challenged majors to consider how to best engage students with history, to think about innovative ways to teach social studies, and to consider the past through a different lens. She hopes the HEP will continue to grow and that the History Department can offer even more courses with a distinctly non-U.S./non-Western perspective.
Hayley settled on the BS History/Social Studies Education degree for other reasons as well. One goal is to become an advocate for public education. Beyond the typical problems that affect educators around the country – the push for more standardized tests and curriculum, teacher pay, lack of respect for the profession – Hayley is troubled by the assault on public education in North Carolina. “State legislators have tired to gut public education, hurting so many kids whose only option for a solid education is the public school system,” she argues. “By pushing for the privatization of schools, and freezing teacher pay, public officials are setting children up for failure.”
As a social studies teacher, Hayley's goal is to inspire change by instilling critical (and historical) thinking skills among her students.
“Many modern problems are the result of our society’s increased polarization and the sound vacuum that encourages people to only listen to others who think like us.”
She also wants to promote character education through the study of history. “Many modern problems are the result of our society’s increased polarization and the sound vacuum that encourages people to only listen to others who think like us.” Hayley thus sees value in inspiring civic action among her students. Thinking about her ideal unit to teach, she remarks: “I would teach a unit on why many people in the South, for so many years, have reacted in negative ways to black civil rights, and how we can begin to overcome the rationalizing of oppression and paternalism.” Not surprisingly, her Honors Thesis centered on the history of reactionary politics in North Carolina. It examines the prevalence of Confederate monuments, and their intended purposes, from Reconstruction through the early twentieth century.
During her time at App State, Hayley received several honors, including the 2018 Dr. Robert D. Warren Scholarship for History, Outstanding Senior, and Junior Marshal for the College of Arts & Sciences in 2017.