Minnesota Council 
for the Social Studies

MCSS Board of Directors

MCSS Board at the 2020 Conference, Mankato

Jennifer Bloom: jbloom@teachingcivics.org
Learning Law and Democracy Foundation

Jorden Carlson: jordencarlson11@gmail.com 
Oakland Middle School (Stillwater)

Matt Carlstrom (Presenters): mcarlstrom@isd317.org
Deer River High School

Jessica Ellison (President): jellison@mcss.org
Minnesota Historical Society

Jennifer Hansen: jhansen@isd761.org 
Owatonna Middle School

Ron Hustvedt, Jr.: ronald.hustvedt@isd728.org
Salk Middle School (Elk River)

Crystal Johnson (Treasurer): crystal25johnson@gmail.com
Maple Grove Senior High

Scott Noet (Secretary): snoet@isd761.org
Owatonna Middle School
NCSS Assignments Committee

Teresa Ponessa: teresa.ponessa@gmail.com
University of St. Thomas

Emma Ryan: eryan@mcss.org
Scott Highlands Middle School (Apple Valley)

Brian Traxler: bjtraxler@hotmail.com
Convent of the Visitation School (Mendota Heights)

Valerie Walker (Awards): vwalker@gustavus.edu
Gustavus Adolphus College, Education Department

Mark Westpfahl (Vice President, Exhibitors): markjwestpfahl@gmail.com
South St. Paul Secondary School

P. J. Wiggin (President-Elect): pjwiggin@gmail.com
Forest Lake High School

Filiz Yargici (Ex Officio)
Minnesota Department of Education, state social studies specialist

Getting to Know Your MCSS Board

Spring Spotlight: Brian Traxler

School/Organization: Visitation School, Visitation is an all-girls Catholic/ Independent school in Mendota Heights, and it is the only single gender school in Minnesota. 

Position: Teaches 11th grade American History and AP United States History

Social Studies Passion: I love teaching students how to get engaged in the civic process. This includes talking about and learning how to register to vote, participating in the caucuses/primaries, and most importantly, helping them understand why their vote matters in general election. 

Challenges: Helping my students understand that instant gratification does not always need to happen to be successful in the classroom. I have the belief that learning concepts and articulating them effectively in writing is a marathon and it often takes time to fully understand how a past event has shaped both the present and future. The "a-ha" moments I see from my students midway through the year are very rewarding, but it comes with the typical growing pains experienced early on in the school year. 

Favorite resource: I like to use ideas from both C-SPAN in the classroom and the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. Also, I am part of a PLC for AP United States History on Facebook and have received many great ideas from that network.  

What do you love about MCSS? Learning that Social Studies teachers are bound by similar successes and challenges; both at the local and national level. I learned about MCSS by accident ten years ago while attending an NCSS Conference, and my career has been strongly enriched ever since. Whether it is applying and attending different teacher seminars locally and across the country or helping with the planning aspects of our own conference, the various opportunities to network is a constant reminder that my story in the classroom is really shared by many others.

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