Publication Date

December 1, 1998

The Fund for the Advancement of Social Studies Education (FASSE) of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has named Dr. William L. Ziglar of Wayne, Pennsylvania, the 1998 winner of the Christa McAuliffe Reach for the Stars Award. Ziglar won the award for his proposal to establish a social studies honor society Pi Alpha Epsilon, first locally and then nationally, since none now exists. The award, accompanied by a FASSE grant for $1,000 to help develop the project, will be presented at the 78th NCSS annual conference, "Toward a Humane World: Making a Difference with Social Studies," in Anaheim, California, November 20–22, 1998, at a reception to be held on Saturday, November 21, 6:00–7:30 p.m., Grand Ballroom E, Marriott Hotel.

The award is given in honor of Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher who perished in the failed 1986 Challenger mission, to a social studies teacher who has a “dream” or goal that will improve social studies education.

Ziglar began a full-time career in secondary education just five years ago, as scholar-teacher at Penncrest High School in Media, Pennsylvania, and now teaches courses there in U.S. history, both pre– and post–Civil War. He received his PhD in 1972 from the University of Maine at Orono.

In 1975–77, Ziglar was a postdoctoral fellow at NASA and the University of Pennsylvania, where he pursued studies in history and the sociology of science and technology.

From 1965 to 1989, Ziglar taught at Eastern College in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, moving up gradually from instructor to the Kea Chair of American History. He was also vice president for academic affairs. In 1979, he received the Lindback Award for Distinguished College Teaching and the Goddard Prize in Space History. At Wingate College in North Carolina, he served (1990–93) as provost and vice president for academic affairs and, in his last year, interim president. His published articles and professional presentations principally dealt with American studies, teaching methodology, black studies, and the history of science and technology.

Ziglar's main interest, however, was working with secondary teachers. During his college tenure, he directed and taught a graduate American Studies Institute for high school teachers. While a Fulbright scholar-in-residence in Norway (1989–90), his main focus was giving lectures and workshops for teachers on American diversity.

Ziglar counts his work with academic honor societies as one of his most satisfying efforts. The McAuliffe Award will enable him to establish the founding chapter of the honor society Pi Alpha Epsilon at Penncrest High School. Its purpose is to promote scholarship and excellence in history and social studies classes and provide students with leadership opportunities in an organization of their own making.

In the words of Ziglar's proposal, "Pi stands for Š the spirit of inquiry Š Alpha is humanity; the spirit of inquiry should lead the student through the social sciences to discover the humanity in all people. Epsilon is interpreted Country. The history of one's country should be the beginning of the discovery of the wider world and the variety of cultures in it."

Program activities will take the form of intergenerational, community, and local history projects, and scholarly programs. Objectives include developing a journal, holding regional meetings for student presentations, and forging affiliations with neighboring colleges and historical groups within the state of Pennsylvania. Ziglar's "dream," ultimately, is to establish a national honor society in history and social studies.

The Board of Directors of National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) created the Fund for the Advancement of Social Studies Education in 1984 to support projects for the improvement of social studies education, where social studies is defined as the integrated study of the social sciences and the humanities to promote civic competence. The fund was established to respond to a perceived need for resources to support distinctive social studies projects and activities that were beyond the resources of the NCSS.

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