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National Conference for the Social Studies
November 30 — December 2, 2007
San Diego, CA

The American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) played a very active role, led by Co-Chairs Barbara Lemecha and Henrietta Nowakowski, during the 87th annual National Conference for the Social Studies, Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2007 in San Diego, CA. A report filed by Lemecha with the ACPC's Publicity Chair, Jo Louise Winters, revealed that as in past years, this energetic and resourceful team, Lemecha & Nowakowski, had spent months in planning, soliciting funding and resource materials, creating posters and a resource CD. After shipping cartons of books, pamphlets, and CDs to the conference site, the team flew to California, set up the booth "Polish Perspectives" and manned it for three days with the able assistance of Director/Past President Debbie Majka and Director Robert Maycan.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), www.socialstudies.org which organizes these national conferences, serves as an umbrella organization for a network of over 110 affiliated state, local, and regional councils and associated groups, representing elementary, secondary, college teachers, faculty, curriculum designers and specialists, supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.

Barbara Lemecha's full report follows:

"The theme for this year's 87th National Conference for the Social Studies was 'Crossing Borders - Building Bridges' and I truly believe that by ACPC's continuous and enthusiastic participation in these annual conferences with the strong support of the US Polonia, we are building stronger bridges and an important connection with educators, while providing them with valuable resources at our 'Polish Perspectives' booth about Polish contributions to the world, past and present. It certainly is a pleasure to meet teachers whom we hadn't met in prior conferences, but it is especially gratifying to see the same teachers every year who seek our booth to report on how they used the materials in their classrooms that we provided them in the previous year - and eagerly seek more of the documentary materials that we offer them gratis. The ultimate result of the closer working relationship with educators is better informed and more interested students with regard to Poland's history and culture. It is with great dedication and commitment that we prepare our 'Polish Perspectives' booth, gathering materials and presenting them to the teachers with pride and the conviction that they will be very useful in their work.

For this conference Henrietta and I, once again, put together a CD containing many resources and web site links, highlighting contributions of Polish physicists, engineers, chemists, poets, composers and other brilliant Polonians who made their mark in history. We brought 300 copies of the CD to the conference for free distribution to the visitors to our booth. A rich supply of various other resource materials was made available at our booth - many books, historical posters ready to display in classrooms, brochures about Brigadier Gen. Casimir Pulaski, bookmarks celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Poles at Jamestown, and World War II history books such as A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud, and the novel Night of Flames, for which the author Douglas W. Jacobson generously provided free copies and a poster, among many others about notable historical facts - thanks to the generosity of Polonian organizations and individuals who clearly understand the role of this vital mission.

We had many visitors to our booth and the reflections are priceless. We talked with teachers, administrators, curriculum makers and young student teachers. Their keen interest in our 'Polish Perspectives' motivates us to not only continue our mission, but to make it bigger and better next year! The group of young student teachers, in particular, was most receptive and enthusiastic when we shared our resource materials and answered their lively questions.

We are very fortunate and grateful that the ACPC and many other Polish organizations as well as generous individuals support our efforts in this event. The information and resources that we provided will furnish pupils with truthful accountings of Poland and its peoples, overcoming false and biased stories they may have encountered. Hopefully, the teachers' use of our materials will help them cultivate students' curiosity and set them on a journey of discovery, connect them with the past and spark their interest to explore further the history of Poland and the rich contributions Poles have made to society.

The Polish Embassy provided brochures about Poland, its people, history and culture, including "Solidarity" pamphlets. The American Institute for Polish Culture in Miami donated cartons of books, among them the Madame Sklodowska-Curie story, which was rather special because we were celebrating her 140th birthday in 2007. The Kopernik Observatory of Vestal, NY sent informational brochures about its exciting programs for youths. Dr. Julian Kulski provided his book and award winning DVD published by National History Day "Legacy of the White Eagle". 2nd VP Peter Obst donated books about Ralph Modjeski, America's outstanding bridge builder and graciously provided photographs and materials for the exhibit poster. Robert Maycan was instrumental in making arrangements with the Polish American Congress Charitable Organization, which donated 250 copies of books on Jamestown, and with the Polish National Alliance that donated 250 brochures on Gen. Casimir Pulaski. Dr. Andrzej Pronczuk, Pres. Polish Cultural Fdn. of Boston donated 100 colorful bookmarkers depicting the 400th anniversary of the first Poles at Jamestown, VA (we purchased an additional 200). Lady Blanka Rosenstiel donated 50 copies of DVDs on the 1944 Warsaw uprising. Mary Heslin shared World War II historical posters with us that were exhibited in Connecticut. Additionally, we purchased copies of the "Zegota" documentary for $300 to distribute to teachers at the conference. Adam Bak of Adamba Imports sent us a very generous amount of Polish candies, which we offered to the guests visiting our booth. We are also grateful to Andrzej Zmurkiewicz, who resides in San Diego, for storing 28 boxes of books, posters, and other materials that were sent to his office by us and directly by some of our donors in preparation for the booth. At the suggestion of ACPC's Video Promotions Committee Chair Mary Flanagan, Henrietta Nowakowski filmed the ACPC role at the Conference for documentary purposes."

Lemecha's report also reveals that participation in the NCSS conference is a costly undertaking. Space rental at the Conference for non-profit organizations was $1,720 and the rental of 3 tables and a chair plus the union labor fees to move the materials from the car to the booth was $874, not to mention all the other considerable costs for shipping, printing, copying, filming, purchasing resource materials, etc.

The fundraising campaign led by Lemecha and Nowakowski covered all of the expenses thanks to the generosity of organizations and many individuals who share our firm resolve in this very valuable project. Sponsoring organizations were: The American Council for Polish Culture, The American Institute of Polish Culture of Miami, Polish Arts Club of Chicago, The Friends of Polish Art - Detroit, Polish American Art Association of DC and The Embassy of the Republic of Poland. Other supporting organizations were: Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia, and Polish Falcons Alliance of America. It is important to note that Lemecha, Nowakowski and the two other ACPC members, Deborah Majka and Robert Maycan who helped manage the booth, covered their own air travel expenses, lodging and all other personal costs.

We are all indebted to Barbara Lemecha and Henrietta Nowakowski for the very striking displays at the conference booth, and their untiring efforts gathering fully adequate supplies of resource materials to distribute to teachers and administrators while responding graciously and knowledgably to their inquiries. Thanks are also due to Debbie Majka and Robert Maycan for their devotion of time and effort in helping to man the "Polish Perspectives" booth throughout the Conference as well as to Diana Odenwalder of San Diego who helped out on Saturday.

This year the NCSS Conference will take place in Houston, TX, Nov. 14-16, 2008 with a general theme that aims at helping students "Embrace The Future." Of special interest to our NCSS Team is a proposed working theme, "Global Awareness" or how can we best help students develop a deep knowledge and understanding of other nations, cultures, and people?

All organizations and individuals are invited to embrace this worthwhile project with a financial commitment and help us "Keep Our Heritage Alive" through our presence and efforts at these NCSS events. If we reach even a handful of teachers with essential information, we will have reached a higher multiple of students and hopefully launched them on an exciting voyage of historical and cultural discovery. Please consider supporting this worthwhile project with financial contributions and/or material resources. Checks should be made payable to ACPC with the notation "For NCSS" and mailed to:

Henrietta Nowakowski, NCSS Committee Co-Chair
23354 Longview
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
tel: (313) 565-7625

Donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law. Thank you!

Photographs from the Conference

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1. Debbie Majka and Robert Maycan

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2. Students visit the booth

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3. Debbie Majka, Henrietta Nowakowski, Barbara Lemecha

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4. Debbie Majka, a visitor and Robert Maycan

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5. A visiting educator

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6. Teachers inspect materials

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7. Visitors at the booth

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8. Visitors at the booth

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9. Visitors at the booth

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10. Robert Maycan and visitor