Oyster Bay High School social studies teacher Mr. Brian Soper was named Outstanding High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Long Island Council for the Social Studies (LICSS). The award recognizes teachers who have demonstrated effective and inspiring social studies teaching, including the ability to convey the importance and vitality of social studies to high school students.
Mr. Soper accepted his award at the Council’s awards ceremony at the Marriott Melville Long Island on June 10th. Dr. Joseph Pesqueira, K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies, Career Technologies, and Service Learning, nominated him for the award, calling him a “dedicated, passionate, caring, and exciting educator.”
“I knew Mr. Soper was an exceptional teacher the first time I had a conversation with him,” Dr. Pesqueira said. “Every day in Mr. Soper’s Advanced Placement World History and 8th Grade U.S. History classes, he finds innovative ways to engage students in learning.”
Among his imaginative lessons over the years, Mr. Soper had students create memes to celebrate the signing of the Pure Food and Drug act, depict early 20th century industrialists as superheroes or villains, develop New Year’s resolutions for people in history, and analyze the anatomy of an empire.
“This was one of the toughest years that I have ever had in teaching and receiving this award truly makes me feel special,” Mr. Soper said of the recognition. “I love teaching at Oyster Bay High School and I am always trying to find ways to bring the curriculum to life for the students. I am thankful to be in a department and a school district that supports those ideas and sometimes risks, like having students illustrate the rise, fall and key characteristics of the Islamic Ottoman and Mughal Empires on pumpkins around Halloween in a project I called ‘The Rise of the Ottoman and Mughal Jack-O-Lanterns’.”
“Sometimes, people argue that teachers just have to focus on curriculum and that there isn’t a place for all the “fun” in the classroom,” Dr. Pesqueira continued. “Mr. Soper has found a way to bridge the two, as is evident with his impressive AP World History scores. In 2017, 52 percent of students scored 3 or above on the AP World History exam. In 2018 and 2019, that number skyrocketed to over 80 percent,” he said. “Mr. Soper takes pride in his work and finds ways to make students smile, while helping them to understand the information in a way that will help them retain it rather than just memorize and eventually forget it.”
Mr. Soper has been teaching for about 18 years. During his 13 years at Oyster Bay High School, he has taught AP European History, AP World History, Global 10 Regents, U.S. History Regents, and 8th grade social studies. Outside the classroom, Mr. Soper has coached boys’ and girls’ basketball at the middle and high school levels and intramural golf. But his greatest coaching achievement was expanding the boys’ lacrosse program. He began coaching lacrosse in 2008, bringing the program from the middle level to junior varsity and then to varsity in 2012. As a former player, he won the 2001 National Championship at Adelphi and was a two-time All-American Goalie.