Social studies teacher of the year

Highlighting project-based learning and the Kiva Project


Andrew Budris has taught at Bellport High School for the last 23 years and has been a social studies teacher for 25, beginning his career in a Brooklyn middle school. Since he started teaching at Bellport, Budris has taught each social studies class.

“I have also taught various levels of students,” Budris said. “The college-level students in addition to the general level and special education. That is one of the things that I really enjoy about teaching: the different types of students I get to work with.”

The social studies teacher was named 2020 Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year by the Long Island Council for the Social Studies.

Budris, a Bellport resident, currently teaches AP Government and 10th-grade Global Studies.

“I like 10th-grade Global History because it is all conflict, and conflict for human beings is more interesting,” he said. “My 12th-grade class: it is especially important for people to study political science because we study it from the perspective of a machine that is in operation.”

He pointed to how society harps on the combative aspect of politics and that defeating a political opponent is the overarching goal.

“The way we address it in class is really from a different perspective, where we say, 'How can we understand how this machine works, and how can we use it to bring people together for some sort of common effort?'” Budris said. “I think that has been lost in a lot of adults right now. It is supposed to be to accomplish something…”

Budris said he incorporates humor in teaching various classes. He also said that teaching with a conceptual approach can be more beneficial than simply a content-based one.

“Students sort of see me jump from the ideas that are still very visible today to the content that occurred in the past,” he said. “It is more accurate to say 'rhymes' throughout history — themes that keep repeating themselves throughout history. If kids understand that, then they understand the relevance of things that happened several-hundred years ago because it could end up being sort of a foreshadow of what is happening today.”

Budris is also currently a doctoral student at Hofstra University. His dissertation focuses on project-based learning, which is a learning method that Budris utilizes in his work at Bellport High School.

“Philosophically, project-based learning is to position students to answer a question or address a problem in groups that does not have a really clear answer,” he said. “It involves allowing students to research, collaborate together [and] come up with creative presentations for their answers to history's questions.”

In fact, the entire ninth grade, for the school’s second year, participates in the Kiva Project, a project that Budris designed.

Regarding the award, Budris said he was pleasantly surprised to be recognized.

“I really couldn't have done it without my colleagues and my students,” he said. “I could not have done these things without the environment that I am in and the students that I have.”


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