National Conference for the Social Studies
November 14-16, 2008
Article by Jo Louise Winters
PR Chair, ACPC
Each year members of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) look forward with great anticipation to the report made by Co-Chair Barbara Lemecha on the Council's important role in the National Conference for the Social Studies. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which organizes these annual 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. About 5,000 teachers and other individuals from throughout the U.S. attend the conferences and have the opportunity to visit the various exhibits. In her current report, which follows, Mrs. Lemecha eloquently describes the extensive months of planning, preparations, and handling of the exhibit that she and Co-Chair Henrietta Nowakowski undertake each year, as well as the reactions of teachers to the exhibit and the materials freely provided to them at the 88th NCSS Annual Conference in Texas.
Recently, a prominent U.S. Senator told a "Polish joke" during one of his public speeches. When informed that some Polish Americans were in the audience, he remarked that in that case it would be necessary to tell the joke again at a much slower pace. To combat such defamation we need reports like Mrs. Lemecha's, which inform readers of the bountiful supplies of books, pamphlets and lesson plans by distinguished Polish and non-Polish authors that we distribute at the exhibit each year, which factually describe the rich contributions and sacrifices made by Poles and Polish Americans to the freedom, growth and culture of the United States of America. The sacrifices and unselfish dedication of Polish Americans throughout the history of the U.S. is significantly and thoroughly explained in the materials offered to the teachers who eagerly seek out our booth each year. ACPC has proudly accepted the opportunity to be responsible for organizing this important exhibit with the support of numerous organizations and individuals across the U.S. ACPC is deeply appreciative of the incredible hours spent by Barbara Lemecha and Henrietta Nowakowski who seek no reimbursement for expensive travel, lodging and food costs involved in the exhibit program. The Council is also most appreciative of the rich financial and material contributions made by organizations and individuals that have helped make the "Polish Perspectives" exhibit a truly resounding success in bringing the true story of the contributions of Poles and Polish Americans to the classrooms in the U.S.
The following is the report prepared by Barbara Lemecha & Henrietta Nowakowski.
National Conference for the Social Studies
"Polish Perspectives" Exhibit by American Council for Polish Culture
"Embrace the Future" was the theme of last year's 88th National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference (NCSS) in Houston, Texas. The American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) committee embraced this project with a great deal of commitment and dedication as they prepared materials and resources to share with this year's attendees.
The Council's "Polish Perspectives" exhibit contained a World War II poster, Jamestown's 400th Anniversary poster and the Revolutionary War Heroes poster. The booth was colorful, inviting and informative as well as full of very valuable materials. Once again, as in past years teachers sought our particular booth and they were so enthusiastic that we asked them to write down their comments. Those priceless comments of the teachers will be shared with all attendees at the next ACPC Convention in Hartford this summer. Teachers were thanking us for coming back with "Polish Perspectives" and they asked ... "What new materials do you have for us". Their remarks so motivated us to continue this vital project that the ACPC Committee is already making plans and preparing materials for the next exhibit this coming November in Atlanta, Georgia.
It was with great satisfaction that we handed out new materials at the Houston Conference this year, which included World War II books and DVDs on the Warsaw Uprising. The latter items were generously donated by Lady Blanka Rosenstiel, President of the American Institute of Polish Culture. We also distributed our new lesson plan on Kosciuszko and Pulaski, the Revolutionary War Heroes. This lesson plan was supported by a historical poster and the book "Twice a Hero" supplied by Nancy Reid of Rainbow Productions. Ms. Reid generously donated two cases of these books for which ACPC is very grateful. As in the past, we handed out CD- ROMs that contained valuable resources and a myriad of historical facts. We distributed these materials with the hope and expectation that they will help advance a deeper understanding of Polish culture, history and contributions to the World. We derived a great deal of pleasure from comments such as ... "I did not know that Poles did that, tell me more ... " This is why we must continue to grow and be visible at these gatherings of educators and curriculum makers.
As we point out in every report concerning our participation in this national conference, the event is possible only because of the commitment and resolve of all the Polish organizations and individuals who see the need for promoting "Polish Perspectives". The list of supporters is long and we gratefully acknowledge all those listed below who provided us with financial support or invaluable materials: The Kosciuszko Foundation, An American Center for Polish Culture, Promoting Educational and Cultural Exchanges and Relations between United States and Poland since 1925, Friends of Polish Art, Detroit. American Institute of Polish Culture, Miami; American Institute of Polish Culture, Pinellas County; Polish Arts Club of Chicago; The Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Polish American Arts Association, Washington, D.C; Polish Cultural Club of Hartford; Polish Cultural Foundation of Boston which also donated hundreds of bookmarks.
Also, we acknowledge individual donors:
Thaddeus and Irena Mirecki, Paul Bosse, Deborah Majka, Matthew & Carolyn Meleski, Louis Patalita, Lidia Preble, Casimir & Stella Rozycki, Mary Ellen Tyszka, Marion & Jo Louise Winters, Sharon Brzostowski and Irene Musman. In addition, $1,232.62 designated to the exhibit by the American Council for Polish Culture, which was raised by Director Paul Bosse's annual Fund Raiser.
All these generous contributions played an integral part in our continued success.
Special words of gratitude are extended to Jacek Galazka of Hippocrene Books who provided us with over 200 copies of "Poland in World War II - An Illustrated Military History" by Andrew Hempel as well as many books for display related to World War II. Thanks are also due to Szymon Tolak for creating a poster marking the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the World War II; the Polish National Alliance for rulers; the Polish American Congress(PAC) Charitable Foundation for Jamestown booklets; New York and Chicago Consulates for two wonderful booklets, "The Emissary The Story of Jan Karski" and "The Story of Irena Sendler"; Dr. Barbara Anderson of the PAC Washington Office for an assortment of useful material; Mariusz Brymora from the Polish Embassy for donating the posters commemorating 400 years of Poles in America; Hon. Consul of St. Louis Robert Ogrodnik for Solidarity booklets; Wallace West for very informative and educational handouts; Orchard Lake Schools for numerous posters, "The Imagination of Poland;' Thad Cooke's donation of many books for display at the exhibit; and lastly Adam Bak of Adamba Imports for providing boxes of treats that kept teachers coming back for more. Sincere thanks are due to all these thoughtful and generous donors.. Not to be forgotten are Debbie Majka and Robert Maycan for their invaluable presence and assistance at the exhibit. Also, a word of thanks to Irena Szewiola for putting us in touch with Dr. Eva Thompson and Aneta Krozel of Houston who stored dozens of cartons for the exhibit and helped tremendously during the conference.
As we prepare for this year's NCSS Conference scheduled for November 13-15, 2009, titled "Dreams and Deeds" we invite all organizations and individuals to support this worthwhile project with financial commitments. To "Keep Our Heritage Alive", please make checks payable to ACPC/NCSS and mail to:
Henrietta NowakowskiDonations are tax deductible to the extent of the law. Thank you!
Dearborn Heights, MI48127
tel: (313) 565-7625
Photographs from the Conference
1. Visitors at the booth
2. Henrietta Nowakowski with visitor Catherine Page
3. Debbie Majka and a visitor
4. General view
5. Visitors at the booth
6. Barbara Lemecha and Robert Maycan
7. Christopher Rose at the booth
8. Henrietta Nowakowski, educator Cory Rutz and Debbie Majka