Social Studies


social studies logo

The PHS Social Studies Department logo embodies the principles of citizenship education our department is founded on. The puzzle piece represents each PHS learner as they seek to balance their skills and passions with the needs of the world to become thriving contributors to their local, national and world communities.



PHS Debate Throwdown:

This annual event brings all PHS freshman and many sophomores together to debate topics of their own choosing from history and current events. Debate is deeply embedded in the Social Studies curriculum at PHS because it facilitates learners using information literacy strategies to seek relevant knowledge, developing empathy through the study of diverse points of view and constructing arguments using appropriate evidence. All these skills are critical 21st-century citizenship capacities.


The Portola High School Social Studies Department works to empower students to become engaged and effective 21st-century citizens. Our work is driven by the following values...

  1. Active Learning: A student’s effective participation in the unfolding direction of their own learning program produces growth in ALL students.

  2. Global Empathy: Knowledge of self and others creates the opportunity for students to understand their world and to build a peaceful and prosperous future together.

  3. Engaged Citizenship: All students should work to merge their passions with service to their local, national and global communities.  

  4. Valuing Complexity: The world is complex and all students deserve the opportunity to receive instruction as to how to manage that complexity appropriately.  

  5. Intellectual Courage: All students must receive instruction on how to engage in civil discourse in order to build our society's capacity to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Portola High School Social Studies Mission Statement

Our department will serve our aforementioned values by...

  1. Providing access to dynamic instructional strategies, which help all learners access our curriculum. We believe that how something is taught is at least as important as what is taught.
  2. Building a comprehensive historical, cultural, and social science program delivered by a passionate and caring group of teacher-scholars.
  3. Collaborating with all disciplines and programs on campus to deliver to our learners the most balanced and relevant citizenship development experience we can envision.