My name is Brian Rock, and I’m a civic educator. I taught social studies for over a decade in East Orange. I’m passionate about civics education, and I created The Civic Educator to form a community of similarly passionate educators in support of better civic education in New Jersey and throughout the country.
From 2007 to 2019, I worked as a social studies teacher at East Orange Campus High School in East Orange, NJ. I’ve taught US History, World History, and AP US Government and Politics. I helped rewrite both the US History and AP Government curricula, and I wrote the curriculum for a new Civics and Government course.
I currently work for the New Jersey Education Association – providing support and training to teachers who want to have in voice in how their districts operate. While I’m no longer in the classroom, I still care deeply about civics – and about helping people be engaged citizens.
I studied political science and history at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. As a graduate student at Rutgers, I was fortunate to study under Beth Rubin and Ben Justice – two great civic-minded social studies education professors. After I began teaching, I returned to Rutgers to work on an Ed.D. in Social Studies Education. I chose not to finish my dissertation, but I was afforded the chance to complete a graduate fellowship at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. This gave me a behind the scenes view of politics and policy in New Jersey, and it renewed my commitment to civic education.
In the summer of 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to work at C-SPAN as a Teacher Fellow in Washington, D.C. I worked with their Education Department to develop lesson plans and materials for their website, C-SPAN Classroom. I later returned to work at C-SPAN as a Senior Fellow and spent a year developing lesson plans for another website, Classroom Deliberations. Although I no longer work for C-SPAN, I’ve independently facilitated professional development sessions on how to use their resources to teach controversial issues in the high school classroom.
Other notable professional development experiences include: the House Fellows program run by the office of the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives (2010); a seminar on “Race and Politics in the Civil War” at the New York Historical Society, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (2014); a seminar on “Literacy and Democracy” at Monmouth University, sponsored by the NJ Council for the Humanities (2009); the Leadership Associates Program at Montclair State, sponsored by the MSUNER (2014); and the Amistad Commission Summer Institute for Teachers (2014).
My commitment to civics education expands beyond the K-12 classroom. I’m a graduate of New Leaders Council NJ (Class of 2016), and for three years I served as the Institute Co-chair for NLC NJ. My co-chair and I were responsible for facilitating a six month program for each class of fellows, training and developing the next generation of progressive leaders in New Jersey. I was a founding member of the Citizens Campaign’s Newark Civic Trust, and I’ve also been active with the Essex County Young Democrats and the Urban League of Essex County Young Professionals.
I grew up in Edison, New Jersey, and I currently live in West Orange.