Thoughts of TOPSS on the Occasion of its 20th Anniversary

Charles Blair-Broeker, TOPSS Chair, 1994

There were three interrelated initiatives in the late 20th century that led to incredible growth in both the quality and quantity of high school psychology: month-long summer NSF workshops, the launch of the AP Psychology exam, and, of course, APA's decision to trust high school psychology teachers with control of the high school teacher affiliate program. When you consider that well over 200,000 students will take the AP exam this year it's obvious we're touching a lot of lives. And when you consider the impact of the three initiatives and the National Standards, I believe that a large percentage of the high school students are receiving instruction as good as many college students.

I have always felt unbelievable lucky that I had the chance to be a part of TOPSS. May TOPSS' next 20 years be even better!

Randy Ernst, TOPSS Chair, 1995

On the macro level, it's hard to trump national standards as an achievement. At the micro level, I think the unit plans really helped put TOPSS on the map because they were tangible, distributable products that we could hold up as a reason to join at the hundreds of workshops we all facilitated or ran. The freely distributed lesson plans helped sell TOPSS to APA members and high school teachers. Finally, I gravitate toward gratitude. TOPSS would have never been started or maintained without the incredible support of APA members and staff who gave their time to mentor, campaign, and promote.

Margaret Davidson, TOPSS Chair, 1996

TOPSS should be applauded for establishing introductory psychology as an important feature on the academic curriculum map. Who knew there were thousands of pre-college educators throughout the world presenting the basics of the science of psychology to the best and brightest students? These teachers provide first steps of developing the APA professionals of the future.

Carol Dean, TOPSS Chair, 1999

Thanks to all the founders at every level who had the vision and worked so hard to make it happen. I will always cherish the contacts and friends and support that I enjoyed. TOPSS and its people changed my life. I will be forever grateful.

Rob McEntarffer, TOPSS Chair, 2002

TOPSS is a valuable professional organization in my teaching life because of the people involved: I know that I can have a fabulous, productive conversation with any TOPSS member I meet, and every TOPSS 'product' respects me as a professional and is aimed at helping me in my mission as a teacher. TOPSS mirrors the passion and commitment of psychology teachers!

Debra Park, TOPSS Chair, 2004

The generosity of the members of TOPSS to help each other, the goals set and accomplished by the TOPSS Executive Boards over the past 20 years, the Education Directorate and APA's continued belief and support of our initiatives - this is what has made TOPSS the very BEST professional organization I have ever been a member of, providing the very BEST resources and support to psychology teachers all over the world.

Amy C. Fineburg, PhD, TOPSS Chair, 2005

TOPSS gives high school psychology teachers a professional home. The value of that sense of belonging is invaluable. I so appreciate the APA for building and maintaining this home for all who come to find themselves teaching this relevant and fun class.

Asuncion Miteria Austria, PhD, BEA Liaison to TOPSS, 2004-2006

It was a pleasure and an honor to have worked as a Liaison to TOPSS. It was indeed a privilege to work with knowledgeable and deeply dedicated teachers who are focused on developing and maintaining quality standards in the teaching of psychology in secondary schools. I join everyone in celebrating these wonderful educators.

Laura Brandt, TOPSS Chair, 2007

As single instructors in many high school buildings, Psychology instructors often lack the option of content offerings on staff development days and have few opportunities to interact with other Psychology professionals on a regular basis. TOPSS has served as a conduit to professional growth by providing lesson plans, national standards, professional development conferences, a mentor network, speakers bureau and other opportunities which allow both new and veteran instructors develop the craft of teaching psychology as a science. This continued support has allowed thousands of high school students the opportunity to begin their journey to explore the field of Psychology and it’s many offerings.

Hilary Rosenthal, TOPSS Chair, 2008

I have been involved in a number of professional organizations in the course of my career. TOPSS is head and shoulders above any others in valuable professional development and resources offered. The quality of the APA staff has a great deal to do with that. When I was first elected to the Committee Board, I expected that, as mere high school teachers -- mostly without doctoral degrees, we would be peripheral to the APA. I have been gratified by the opportunities we have had to be heard with respect by scholars and practitioners I never dreamed I would meet.

Diane F. Halpern, PhD, TOPSS Faculty Representative, 2008-2010

Serving as an advisory member to TOPSS gave me great hope for the future. If the fabulous teachers I had the privilege to work with and learn from are even remotely representative of the thousands of high school teachers of psychology, today’s young adults will be well prepared for their future. Kudos to all of you who are really giving psychology away.

Marie T. Smith, PhD, TOPSS Committee member, 2006-2009

It’s great to be a part of this wonderful organization. It was a wonderful experience in so many ways. Good work and good fun!

TOPSS has made such a difference in my professional life and I’m sure many educators feel the same. Today there is a large psychology program in many high schools. In my school alone, about 360 students a day take AP Psychology and many senior psych students go out into the field each day as student interns. This could not have happened without TOPSS!

Because of TOPSS, we are together in our plans to educate. Our course is well supported because TOPSS has unified us with National Standards, informs us, connects us to one another, and draws us together to seek excellence. Thanks to all of you at TOPSS who have given us such terrific support and guidance.

Katherine Minter, TOPSS Chair, 2010

In addition to my heartfelt gratitude to all those giants developing the TOPSS organization over the years, on whose shoulders each new TOPSS Committee securely stands, my thoughts also move to another message TOPSS sends to teachers: You are not alone! We all know that until Psychology becomes a required course for high school graduation (my personal dream), we can be viewed as "just an elective," and to that end we are often the only teacher at our school who teaches Psychology. The number one TOPSS goal has always been connection -- connecting teachers to updated content, connecting content to teaching activities for students, connecting professionals at all levels to high school teachers and their students, and connecting teachers of Psychology to each other. This has produced win-win outcomes and over 20 years has begun producing a public -- our former students -- that is increasingly aware of the richness and relevance of the science of Psychology.