Social Studies Education Doctoral Student Casey Holmes ‘21PHD Receives NC State Graduate Student Association Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching

Casey Holmes

NC State College of Education doctoral student Casey Holmes ‘21PHD has been selected to receive the NC State Graduate Student Association (GSA) Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching. She is one of 20 award recipients who will receive a certificate of recognition as well as a monetary award from the Graduate Student Association.

Ten students were selected for the Award in Excellence in Classroom Teaching, while 10 others were selected for the Award in Excellence in Laboratory Teaching.

“Like many other graduate students in the College of Education who are former teachers, I love and care about teaching — especially when teaching other future teachers,” Holmes said. “I think in higher education, teaching can sometimes get overlooked in service to other pursuits like research, so I appreciate that the graduate school is taking time to recognize the importance of good teaching in classrooms and in labs.”

Holmes, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Teaching Education and Learning Sciences (TELS) in the program area of study in social studies education, has spent the last two years as an instructor of record in the undergraduate middle grades English Language Arts and social studies education program, where she teaches the social studies methods course to seniors.

“I’ve always liked history and having some really interesting history teachers in high school solidified that for me,” she said. “A lot of students don’t like social studies in K-12 plus because they find it boring and irrelevant. But if we really do a good job and teach it well, we can see that almost everything we do is connected in some way to social studies concepts, issues or content. Everything is social studies. And that’s what I love about it.”

The NC State GSA has been recognizing outstanding graduate student teachers since the 1970s. Applications, which consist of letters of recommendation from faculty and students, teaching evaluations and/or teaching portfolios, are submitted by graduate program directors and evaluated by the GSA Teaching Excellence Committee.

Holmes’ current research is focused around critical citizenship and what it can look like in the social studies classroom when educators are teaching with a critical lens. She has also done some work around media literacy.

“I’m interested in the topic because historically, the social studies have not been great at teaching hard history. Now more than ever we need to support our students in learning to examine our political and social systems and identify and address the inequalities and injustices that exist,” she said. “I truly believe that life in a democracy demands it.”

Holmes decided to become a teacher because she believes education is one of the keys to opportunity and that students are the future. That’s one of the reasons she wants to continue preparing and teaching future social studies educators.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the TELS department — it’s not just social studies — is also helpful in learning from and working with faculty and students in other fields, which I think will help better prepare me for supporting, not just social studies teachers, but pre-service teachers from many disciplines and backgrounds,” she said.