Laura Mecca-Retzlaff


Laura is currently a Special Education teacher at Susquehanna Valley High School in Conklin, New York. Laura completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York in May of 1992. After graduation she went to work in the field of Advertising and Marketing holding various positions in New York and Binghamton, New York with Interbrand-Schechter, Fox Broadcasting, and Verizon. Laura completed her Master of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Education at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania in January 2010. Laura is professionally certified in Social Studies 7-12 and Students with Disabilities, Social Studies 7-12. She has been a Consultant Teacher for Social Studies since she began her teaching career in the 2008-2009 school year, where she co-teaches Global History and Geography I & II and teaches Global History and Geography I & II and U.S. History and Government curriculum to 12:1:1 students. Laura co-chairs the district’s Tenth Grade Team, which works with academically at-risk students to successfully complete tenth grade. Laura is the National Honor Society advisor and has served her district in the past as the Student Council advisor. Laura will also be leading a group of students and parents on an educational trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom during the summer of 2018. Laura participates in a Social Studies Community of Practice for teachers of ninth and tenth grade in the Broome-Tioga BOCES region. Laura has also served the New York State Council for the Social Studies as the President-Elect and has served as the Vice-President and on the Curriculum and Assessment Task Force. She has also been a past presenter at the Annual Conference. Laura resides in Binghamton, New York with her husband Michael and their children Jackson and Katerina.

Thomas Michalek


Growing up in western New York I was not what you considered a model student. By the time I reached high school I had attended 2 elementary schools, a junior high and then St. Francis high school in Athol Springs. I graduated with honors after having turned my life around, I credit this change to my teachers who modeled perseverance. My public and private experience would carry over professionally when I began my career as an Elementary educator at St. James in Depew. Living in Albany since 1997 and teaching public education at Bethlehem, I now feel I have a unique perspective from both sides of the desk. Additionally, teaching in both Western NY and the Capital District has given me a different point of view in my professional experiences as well. Other qualifications worth noting include NYS certifications in Social Studies 7-12, English 7-12, Elementary Pre-K-12, Special education, Superintendent Administration, and COMPTIA computer credentials in A+ and Network +. These credentials, as well as my 26 years experience in the classroom, continue to prepare me professionally to help guide successful students. Taking on leadership roles in the Boy Scouts, serving as a union building representative, and technology coach for Bethlehem have reinforce my drive with helping others in my community.

April Francis


April Francis is the Social Studies/Blended Learning Curriculum & Staff Developer at PNW BOCES. She holds over 16 years of experience in the education field. April is a former lead social studies classroom teacher (grades 7-12), in the middle school and alternative high school programs in Uniondale. NY. She served as the chairperson of social studies, ENL, and foreign languages in East Rockaway, NY. April’s passion for the social studies has led her to serve on the Teacher Collaborative Council (TCC) for the C3 Framework, as Secretary for NYSCSS (2016-2017, 2017-2018), as the chair of the NYSCSS Cultural Education Committee, and as the New York State representative of the Middle States Social Studies Council (MSCSS). During her tenure as an educator, April has been the recipient of the Nassau BOCES “Education Partner Award”, the NCSS “Program of Excellence” award, and the Uniondale School District “Most Dedicated Teacher” award. As Vice President of NYSCSS, April’s goals are to “Engage, Inform, & Connect” with local council organizations and members throughout New York State. You can find April sharing via her Twitter account @FrancisEducates.

Timothy Potts


Tim Potts graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland with a BA in Secondary Social Studies. He also holds an MS Degree in Social Studies from the State University of New York at New Paltz. For 29 years, Tim has taught 6th and 7th grade social studies at the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School (Monticello Central School District) and is the Department Instructional Lead. Tim has been a member of the council for over 25 years and is a former Middle School and Curriculum & Assessment Chair & Co-Chair. In 2005, he was awarded the NYSCSS Middle School Teacher Award. He, is a Past President (2012-13) of the Council and was the founding President of the Sullivan County Council for Social Studies (1990’s). During Tim's NYSCSS Presidency he co-developed the NYSCSS Task Force to address the implementation of NYSED's SS Framework with other SS leaders statewide. Since 2015, Tim has held the position of the Treasurer and has updated & introduced new fiduciary practices making the Council's finances significantly stronger. He also serves as the chair of the Sites Committee which serves to locate & develop convention & conference locations. During the March 2018 Convention, Tim was surprised & honored with the NYSCSS Distinguished Service Award for his years of service to the profession & organization. Tim was a member of the New York State Education Department’s Content Advisory Panel for Social Studies since its inception in 2011 to 2018 chairing the Curriculum & Assessment portion of the panel. Rounding out his service to his profession, Tim is also active in the leadership of the National Council for Social Studies & was recently nominated to a three year term on the board of the National Social Studies Supervisory Association. 

Timothy Lent


Tim is a curriculum developer and instructional coach for the New Visions for Public Schools Program out of New York City and has held that position since 2014. Previous to that he was a social studies teacher and literacy design lead teacher at the high school for Youth and Community Development in New York City. Tim has presented numerous workshops at several NYSCSS conferences and has also published in the Social Science Docket.

Paul W. Gold, Ed. D.

Past President

Paul Gold is finishing his 25th year as an educator in New York State. Starting his career as a middle school social studies teacher in the New York City Public Schools, Paul has spent most of his career educating children on Long Island. He has served as a teacher of elementary, middle, and high school aged students. Paul has also served as an Assistant Principal of elementary, middle and high school, as well as Interim Middle School Principal. Paul’s current position is that of the K-12 Director for Social Studies in the Three Village Central School District in Suffolk County, New York.
Paul has proven himself to be a dedicated social studies professional over the years. In addition to having proudly served as the Vice-President of the Long Island Council for the Social Studies, Paul has already completed a full cycle of Executive Board Positions for the New York State Council for the Social Studies. Paul also presently serves on the Content Advisory Panel for the New York State Department of Education as well as the Assessment Subcommittee focusing at this time on the upgrading of the Social Studies Regents Examinations for New York State.

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