Edina Educator Named Social Studies Teacher of the Year

by | Aug 2023

Christopher Griggs

Christopher Griggs. Photo: Christ Emeott

Christopher Griggs’ passion for social studies seeps into lessons.

Earlier this year, Christopher Griggs, an Edina High School (EHS) teacher, was honored as the High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies.

However, he wasn’t always a teacher. Before his career change, Griggs worked in financial services—but teaching was always at the back of his mind. “I had really great social studies teachers in high school, and they made an impression on me,” Griggs says. “So, at the end of the day, I think that’s probably how … all those years I always thought about teaching.”

Griggs teaches U.S. Government and Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government at EHS, primarily to ninth graders, and his biggest inspiration is his students. “There’s never a dull day in teaching. It’s something new and unique—the students are so interested in making the world a better place and collaborating with each other,” he says. He also mentions that even though his students have encountered so much adversity throughout their education with COVID-19 and distance learning, they are constantly looking for ways to collaborate.

Thinking critically about the world around you is a skill that is extremely important for Griggs in his teaching lessons. “Social studies is the best subject to teach students how to think critically about the world they live in and especially in this world that we all are inhabiting right now, when information is coming at us fast and furious from everywhere,” he says.

Griggs teaches his students how to navigate online information and understand that the information presented is coming from a certain perspective or certain viewpoint—and knowing that some articles with crucial information may have bias. “Sometimes the information is false, or it’s misleading. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s a worthwhile one for the future of our democracy,” Griggs says.

Griggs and his students also work closely with historical documents, and he teaches them a process called “historical inquiry.” “The goal here is to think critically about the past as we attempt to understand the actions and the motivations of historical figures and the actions they took,” Griggs says. “I like to do that as much as possible, while also encouraging collaboration and trying to encourage students to work together to solve problems and ask questions.”

Griggs has been teaching for eight years, and he says there’s no slowing down. Not only does the outside world and the way his students interact with it keep him energized, but his colleagues do, too. “Everyone at Edina High School is inspiring, motivating and so, so supportive of one another. They’re all so bright, and we all expect high standards from one another,” he says.

While receiving the High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year award, Griggs says he still is blown away and honored by being chosen. “It’s an honor, certainly … it’s humbling. I think there are lots of great social studies teachers throughout the state and throughout the country. I’m still trying to wrap my head around [receiving the award]. It’s very special, and I am grateful for it,” Griggs says.

With the award displayed in his classroom, Griggs is using it as a teaching tool. “I want to show students that if you work really hard, people will take notice, and fantastic things can happen,” he says.


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