The Mission of the Georgia Council for the Social Studies is to advocate for, support, and celebrate the advancement of quality social studies teaching for Georgia students.

The Vision of the Georgia Council for the Social Studies is to prepare students to be knowledgeable, effective decision makers and engaged citizens in a globally interdependent world.

Funding has been provided by Georgia Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the American Rescue Act of 2021.



Jennifer Dawson – Cobb County School District

I am privileged to guide middle school students in learning about our world and connecting to our country as active, informed citizens. I’ve deliberately chosen to remain a classroom social studies teacher, leader, and mentor and would be honored to serve as GCSS president-elect. GCSS was my first professional membership and has fostered untold professional growth, opportunities, mentors and relationships. By raising the profile of social studies and connecting our endeavors to those of NCSS, I believe that GCSS’ future is bright. As an organization, we must advocate at every level for civic-minded social studies education - of both high quality and priority - throughout every nook-and-cranny of Georgia.

The reach of GCSS must expand throughout the state and to newer educators. To that end, during my two terms on the board I initiated both the “Educator of Promise” award and started GCSS’ social media presence. Annually I coordinate a free platform for sharing conference materials. Many would likely recognize me as the “Edmodo Table” lady in Athens.

I’m proof of the unimaginable opportunities GCSS can foster. Though Cobb County District TOTY, Georgia TOTY finalist, GCSS Outstanding Educator, former State School Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Board member, Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, Project Archaeology Master Teacher, and NCSS Committee Chair; not one would have occurred without GCSS!  As future president, I hope to pay forward all that GCSS has afforded me by leading efforts to create active, engaged citizens for both today and tomorrow. Therefore, I would appreciate your vote.



Brian Sirmans - Lanier County School District

I am a 2005 graduate from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in History Education. I earned a Master’s degree from Troy University in Post-Secondary education and a Specialist Degree from Valdosta State University in Teaching and Learning and Educational Leadership.  I have served as a social studies teacher for the past fourteen years in two South Georgia schools, three years at Coffee High School and eleven years at Lanier County High School. I currently serve as the Social Studies Department Chair and as a Commissioner on the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. I have also served as the 2018-2019 Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Lakeland/Lanier County Chamber of Commerce.

As President-Elect for GCSS, I want to be a voice for all educators throughout Georgia to make sure that we have a continued presence under the Gold Dome fighting to protect and promote social studies education. I am a very dedicated and hardworking leader who believes firmly in the principal of “service above self”. It would be an honor to serve as your President-Elect and I humbly ask for your vote and support! Thank you for the honor of this nomination and I look forward to seeing you around the state as we work together to improve our discipline and foster a deeper respect and understanding for social studies education. Together we can build a brighter future for all of Georgia!



Board Position 1


Angie Battle - Georgia Council on Economic Education

Angie Battle has been a Grades 4-8 teacher for 26 years. She is now using her experience in the classroom to help other teachers in her new role as Program Manager for the Georgia Council on Economic Education. She is entering her fourth year serving as the fourth grade social studies virtual specialist for the Georgia Department of Education. On the local level, Angie served on Houston County's social studies curriculum writing team for seven years. She has been the recipient of school level Teacher of the Year award twice as well as the GCEE Economics Teacher of the Year for 2014 and the Gwen Hutcheson Outstanding Educator award in 2018.


Chris Mercer - Savannah-Chatham County School District

Chris Mercer currently serves as the K-5/K-8 Social Studies Teacher Specialist for the Savannah Chatham County Public School System. He started his career as an elementary school teacher, teaching both 3rd and 5th grades over a 10-year period. Always having an immense interest in history, he became a high school Social Studies teacher focusing on US History and American Government. During this time period he was also named as the Department Chairman. After several years in that position, he was hired as the Social Studies Teacher Specialist for the Savannah Chatham School System helping to manage all fifty schools. In this role he assisted teams of teachers to develop curriculum, resources, and assessments, and provided professional development for all grade levels. He was also the Teaching American History Program Director for the school system prior to the federal government ending the program. He has presented at the GCSS Annual Conference several times and he also assisted in developing the 3rd grade Teacher Notes for the Georgia Standards of Excellence. Additionally, he was selected to participate in the George Washington Summer Teacher Institute’s First in Business program this summer. He is an advocate of having Social Studies taught on a regular, scheduled, basis in elementary schools as a means of building a strong foundation across all the Social Studies-based disciplines. As a GCSS Board Member he would continue the excellent work GCSS has done and continues to do to promote Social Studies education across our state. 



Board Position 2


Virnilisa Printup - Rockdale County School District

I am honored to be nominated for a position to serve on the GCSS Board of Trustees. As an alumna of Presbyterian College, I am always searching for ways to fulfill the school’s motto, “While We Live, We Serve.” If chosen to serve on the board, I promise to serve the members of GCSS by providing a listening ear and a voice for all stakeholders.

Throughout my career, I have served students, teachers and leaders in several roles, including teacher, graduation coach, and instructional coach. Currently, I serve as the Social Studies and Fine Arts Coordinator for Rockdale County Schools.

If elected, I will be an activist for powerful and authentic Social Studies instruction, civic engagement and civil discourse, student voice, diversity and inclusion. I would love to serve Georgia’s Social Studies educators in this capacity. I hope that you will show your support by voting for me to serve on the GCSS Board.



Gretna Soltis- Houston County School District

It is an honor to be considered as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Council for Social Studies and serve in a role supporting social studies education across the state. Having become a member of the GCSS organization since 2012 and benefitting from all of the resources, networking, and learning opportunities, I will continue to advocate for the mission of GCSS to support and celebrate quality social studies teaching for Georgia students.

Educational degrees were earned from West Georgia College and University, University of Southern Maine, and Columbus State University. This educational journey led to a professional background that includes classroom teaching at the elementary and middle school levels for over 20 years, serving as an assistant principal for instruction, and for the past five years serving as system coordinator for elementary social studies and media services in Houston County. These roles have allowed for many opportunities to extend my own learning, lead professional learning opportunities with teachers and administrators, serve as a conference presenter, become a member of the GSE Social Studies revision team, and learn from so many outstanding social studies educators. One of the most memorable moments in this profession was receiving 2018 Outstanding Social Studies Supervisor Award.

I am honored to be considered to serve on the GCSS Board of Trustees and will continue to support and promote engaging social studies education for students across the state of Georgia.



Board Position 3


Cathy Latham - Coffee County School District

The 2019 Georgia Economics Teacher of the year, Cathy Latham is beginning her 27th year at Coffee High School in Douglas, GA. She currently teaches Economics, AP Micro/Macro, AP European History, and AP Psychology. She is an AP Reader and is a new adjunct AP Microeconomics instructor for Georgia Virtual School. Mrs. Latham presents workshops throughout Georgia with the Georgia Council for the Social Studies, Georgia Council on Economic Education, and GADOE. She has also presented twice at the National Council on Economic Education. She has also worked on the teacher committee at the GADOE that helped to develop and refine the current GSE for Economics.

This summer, Mrs. Latham was selected as one of the Transatlantic Outreach Programs Goethe-Institut teachers to study in Germany. This fellowship allowed her to study business and education in Germany and then create lesson plans to be used by the Goethe-Institut.

Mrs. Latham holds a Bachelor of Science in English and History from Baylor University and a Masters of Education from Troy University with a dual concentration in Government and Finance, and she earned National Certification in Personal Finance Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City.



Stephanie Peterson - Lowndes County School District

As a child, Stephanie Peterson describes herself as introverted, preferring above all, to write in her diary. She had a strong sense of fairness and even at an early age, was a gentle and giving person. In 9th grade, her life forever changed when her mother became a teacher and the first in the family to graduate from college. Education was not just a job, but a mission field for Stephanie’s mother, and Stephanie was an excited assistant!

Through 4-H, Church, and a sensational high school teacher who encouraged her to develop her writing strengths, Stephanie found success in the world beyond her diary. She thrived as Editor in Chief of the High School Newspaper and as 4-H County Council President.

Although initially considering journalism and social work, a career in education most brilliantly complimented Stephanie’s writing talent and love of helping others. She earned a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Behavioral Disorders, and a Specialist in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University.

In her 24 years with Lowndes County Schools, she has written over $50,000 in educational grants and has taught grades PreK through 8th grade. This coming year Ms. Peterson will be part of Georgia’s Pilot for the first Elementary Agriculture Program in the nation. She is currently Runner Up to the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year and is a tenacious community volunteer. Ms. Peterson considers her greatest accomplishment to be the ability to link learning to real life and engage all students. With her humble and inviting personality, and through her own personal experiences as a single parent, she authentically relates to families building lasting friendships and support systems. She is a servant leader and a nurturer