SMS Social Studies
The Sparta Social Studies Department is committed to offering our students rigorous learning opportunities that challenge students’ thinking and worldview. Our students are encouraged to embrace multiple perspectives, value diversity, and promote cultural understanding in our interconnected global community. Through exploration of a vertically articulated curriculum, engagement, relevancy, and application of historical themes is encouraged while finding connections between past events and the present in order to promote historical understanding. Upon graduation, students will have developed and prepared to be contributors to 21st century society who are civically minded, globally aware, and socially responsible.
Sparta’s Social Studies Program Beliefs (adopted from the National Council of Social Studies):
- High quality social studies instruction is the key to the ongoing development and maintenance of a vibrant democratic republic
- Social studies teaching and learning requires effective use of technology, communication, and reading/writing skills that add important dimensions to students’ learning.
- Challenging social studies instruction makes use of regular writing and the analysis of various types of documents, such as primary and secondary sources, graphs, charts, and data banks. It includes sources from the arts, humanities, and sciences, substantive conversation, and disciplined inquiry.
- In promoting critical, creative, and ethical thinking on problems faced by citizens and leaders, educators must take care to balance the immediate social environment of students and the larger social world, through examining multiple viewpoints.
- Since our communities are full of countless citizens with a wide range of expertise and experiences, assistance from community resource people should be a part of any successful social studies program.
- Students should learn to assess the merits of competing arguments, and make reasoned decisions that include consideration of the values within alternative policy recommendations.
- Through discussions, debates, the use of authentic documents, simulations, research, and other occasions for critical thinking and decision making, students should learn to apply value-based reasoning when addressing problems and issues.
- Students should be encouraged to develop a commitment to social responsibility, justice and action, and demonstrate that in “real life” situations.
- The curriculum should promote critical, creative, and ethical thinking on problems faced by citizens and leaders.
- Evaluation of data for planning curricular improvements should be used to ensure a challenging curriculum. This data should be collected through traditional and alternative assessments.
- Powerful social studies teachers develop and/or expand repertoires of engaging, thoughtful teaching strategies for lessons that allow students to analyze content in a variety of learning modes.
Supervisor of Social Studies
Mr. Kercher has over twenty years of professional experience in New Jersey Public Schools. During this time, he has served in a number of instructional and leadership capacities. These roles include: a teacher of Honors/Humanities programs, an ESL and ICS instructor, a Varsity Basketball, Baseball and Golf coach, a Mentor-Teacher, a 7-12 Department Supervisor, a Community Outreach Coordinator and a Professional Development Provider.
After graduating from The College of New Jersey in 1997 with a BA in History/Secondary Education, Mr. Kercher became a teacher and coach at Hightstown High School in East Windsor, NJ. He graduated from Rider University in 2006 with a Master’s in Educational Leadership. In 2008, he became the 7-12 Social Studies Supervisor in the Livingston Public Schools where he helped to create a Humanities program and integrated cultural programing in conjunction with the World Language Department.
Mr. Kercher firmly believes that a robust curricular program in Social Studies and World Language is critically important for the 21st century learner. It is from these experiences that students can become the empathetic and informed leaders of tomorrow.