AHA Member Spotlight: Nancy McTygue

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

McTygueNancy McTygue is the executive director of the California History-Social Science Project at the University of California, Davis. She lives in Davis, California, and has been a member since 2005

Alma mater: University of California, Davis.

Fields of interest: history education.

When did you first develop an interest in history?

In John McMillan’s 11th Grade U.S. History course at Cloverdale High School in 1982.

What projects are you working on currently? 

We’ve got a number of exciting projects in the works, including the History Blueprint (, which incorporates high quality curriculum, professional development, support for student literacy, and innovative assessments, available online, for free. We also have new online and in-person programs designed to help teachers implement the Common Core State Standards. In 2012, I was lucky enough to be appointed to the California Instructional Quality Commission , which provides advice and guidance to the State Board of Education on standards, curriculum, and assessments throughout the state. It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much about educational reform and public policy development. I’m not an historian, but I’m the only one on the panel with any history teaching experience, so it’s been great to have a place at the table.

Have your interests changed since graduate school? If so, how?

I was trained as a high school history teacher.  After 11 years in the classroom, I took a job with the California History-Social Science Project, providing professional development and now, project administration. I loved teaching when I did it, but I think I’m probably better suited in my current job, as the best teachers I know (both K-12 and university) have much more patience, energy, and creativity than I can muster anymore.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

This probably isn’t a traditional choice, but when I transitioned into an administrative role, the book that really helped me the most was Organizing Genius:  The Secrets of Creative Collaboration by Warren Bennis and Patricia War Biederman (Addison-Wesley, 1997). The book considers a variety of American organizations and businesses that were able to work together very well, despite their individual differences. I have tried very hard to learn lessons from these groups and while we have not always been successful in every project, I am proud of the fact that my colleagues genuinely enjoy working with each other and that their shared goal of helping teachers continues to guide our work.

What do you value most about the history profession?

There are a lot of things I appreciate about this profession, but more than anything else, I like the people. I have been lucky enough to work with talented, hard-working, smart, and funny people with real integrity, here at UC Davis, in our statewide network of CHSSP regional sites, and through a variety of contacts across the country.

Why did you join the AHA?

I joined for a variety of reasons. I was curious about what history education looked like in other states. I wanted to improve my understanding of the discipline and the state of the field. I wanted to network with colleagues outside of my circle. I felt I had some things to share as well and have been so pleased to learn that the AHA welcomed my contributions.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?

At the 2011 meeting in Boston I brought one of my middle school teacher leaders from Southern California with me. She was featured on the historians TV channel in each of the hotel rooms. As we were touring the exhibit hall, a couple of historians came up to her and said, “You’re Jasmin Brown, the middle school teacher from Lynwood, right?” She had a smile that lasted the whole conference.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?

I have been married for 24 years to a wonderful man who is kind, considerate, and smart. We have two teenage sons who play basketball, football, and rugby. I am very proud to be their mom (and have the white hair to prove it…)

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