Joey Santos ('16) graduated with Honors from the History/Social Studies Education program . His thesis, "The Development, Implementation, and Enduring Impact of John Dewey's Philosophy of History," was well received by his committee: Drs. Michael Behrent (History, Thesis Director), Rwany Sibaja (History), and Peter Nelson (RCOE Leadership and Educational Studies). Joey excelled across all his classes at App State and during his student teaching experience at West Lincoln High School.
Joey is currently a social studies teacher at East Burke High School in Connelly Springs, NC.
Why did you decide to become a History/Social Studies Educator?
Joey Santos: If I’m being completely honest, I never thought that I would become a history/social studies educator prior to attending Appalachian State University. I was the math and science guy growing up, and I actually entered Appalachian as an Exercise Science major. Once being exposed to the world of academia and beginning the process of “finding myself,” I started to ask a lot of questions—questions whose answers were revealed through my self-guided study of the past. It was during my sophomore year that I fell in love with history due to what I perceived as its ability to reveal a great deal about the human condition. I decided to become a history/social studies educator so that I could help others along their path of inquiry into the realities of past and present human existence, as well as into the possibilities for the future. The importance of quality history and social studies education cannot be overemphasized. All students deserve to know what it means to be a human being, what it means to be an American, and what it means to play an active role in our democratic experience.
Why should high school students consider Appalachian State University?
JS: Appalachian offers an endless number of opportunities for intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth. The course options are vast, the campus and its community of students are beautiful and welcoming, and Appalachian is in close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which provides the perfect opportunity for one to decompress and recalibrate after a week of intellectual exertion. At Appalachian State, students are truly more than just a number. All of my professors knew me by name and I always felt as though my professors cared deeply about my wellbeing. I always felt as though my professors created inclusive learning communities, emphasized socially just education, and connected course content to the realities of the human condition. While Appalachian has done an amazing job of preparing me for a career in history/social studies education, I am most grateful for the experiences that have taught me how to be a more thoughtful, open-minded, and compassionate human being.
What excites you the most about working with students?
JS: As I work with students in my high school social studies classrooms, I am most excited about my students’ willingness to ask thought-provoking questions about the past, present, and future. While some degree of apathy will be present in any high school classroom, I believe that students are innately curious and are truly interested in learning about humanity’s relevant and meaningful past. I am also excited about the relationships that I have cultivated with my students. While I love stepping into the classroom where I have an opportunity to teach a subject that I am incredibly passionate about, I am most grateful for the daily opportunity to connect with my students on a personal level. As one of my professors used to say, “students don’t care what you think until they think that you care,” and my experiences in the classroom have revealed that creating caring relationships with and between students is vital to a meaningful and successful teaching experience.