Social Studies PLC

The Social Studies PLC is a supportive community of dynamic history and social studies school leaders, including department chairs and social studies coordinators, teacher- leaders, and curriculum directors. We develop an agenda based on needs and opportunities as they arise in the field. Experts from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, UMass Amherst, iCivics, and other partners have attended on invitation by the group. 


  • Collaborate with a dynamic group of social studies school leaders from across Western Massachusetts.
  • Share and examine effective strategies for teaching virtually and with social distancing. 
  • Explore current issues, including civic engagement, inquiry-based learning, access for diverse learners, implementation of 2018 state frameworks, and social justice issues. 
  • Discuss state and Federal policies and developments that impact the Social Studies. 
  • Share resources and best practices with fellow teachers who share a passion for history and social studies. 
  • Create and shape opportunities for high quality, meaningful professional development.

2020-2021 School Year

Due to concerns about COVID-19 exposure and the on-going pandemic health crisis, the Social Studies PLC meetings will be held remotely using Zoom. We value the in-person experience and will balance this preference with safety concerns. When the public health situation changes, we will work as a group to develop a plan for returning to in-person sessions. 

The first session of the 2020-2021 School Year will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, September 30th, 2pm - 4pm

PLC Cancellations

Cancellations will be communicated by the facilitator by email before noon on the day of the meeting. Please check your email before the meeting to confirm that there has not been a cancellation.


Please register online, and the Zoom link for the PLC sessions will be shared by a facilitator. 

All questions about this learning community should be directed to the PLC Facilitators, Rich Cairn at and Alison Noyes at


  • Rich Cairn

    Rich Cairn has directed the Emerging America program since 2006. Emerging America includes Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History Institutes: "Forge of Innovation: The Springfield Armory and the Genesis of American Industry."

  • thumbnail image of Alison Noyes

    Alison Noyes is the Assistant Director of the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services. She has worked in the field of education for over 20 years, entering as a teacher of English Language learners and high school history, and working for many years with international students and college study abroad as a program director and assistant dean before returning to focus on engaging K-12 students.