Gilder Lehrman North Carolina History Teacher of the Year Beth Shaver ‘24PHD: ‘Every Day I Get to Share My Passion for American History. I Get the Opportunity to be a Full-time Storyteller and Bring History to Life’

Beth Shaver

It was in Mr. Lars Ekdahl’s American History class where Beth Shaver ‘24PHD knew she would be a history teacher. She doesn’t remember what she learned specifically in his class, but she remembers loving every minute of it. And she never wavered from that track.

About Beth Shaver

Hometown: Pleasant Hill, California

Role: AP United States History and African American Studies Teacher, Holly Springs High School in Holly Springs, N.C.

Education: Master of Arts in American History, Pace University and the Gilder Lehrman Institute; Bachelor of Arts in History, the University of California Irvine

Why She Chose Education: “My senior year, I had to do a senior career project and I remember my tagline was ‘I want to inspire like I have been inspired.’ For me, it has always been, and always will be, about paying it forward.”

Her Advice to Aspiring Teachers: 1) Be patient. Teaching is a craft and it takes time to find your groove in your own class. 2) Allow your students to see “you.” It is the greatest first step to relationship building. 3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues. Venture out of your classroom, observe other teachers early and often, assimilate ideas and let them know when you are struggling and need a hand. We have ALL been there.

That same love of history that Shaver developed in high school has shown in her current role as an Advanced Placement United States History and African American Studies teacher at Holly Springs High School, where she is starting her 11th year. And Shaver was named the 2020 North Carolina History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

“I know that I am surrounded by amazing talent at my school, district and state, so to be chosen for this honor is incredibly humbling and I am grateful for the recognition,” she said.

Shaver, who is starting her 14th year as a high school history teacher, is currently enrolled in the NC State College of Education, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences with a specialty in social studies education.

“Education for me has truly been about passion for the career and history, and my philosophy of paying it forward. With this degree I feel that I can begin to take the next step and help to grow the next generation of social studies educators through teaching them and sharing my experiences,” she said.

As an educator who is dedicated to social studies, and specifically history education, Shaver chose the program at NC State, she says, because she desired a program that would help her to foster that passion and continue with the focus. The NC State College of Education allows her to continue to be in the classroom while taking classes in the evening.

Being able to continue to do what she loves and develop the skills to help train others who have the same passion was important for Shaver. The most important thing about teaching, she says, is the relationships she gets to have with her students.

“In order for students to care to learn, they have to know their teacher cares,” Shaver says. And she takes that to heart. She makes sure every student that walks through her door feels that. Shaver shares her life and her stories with them, and makes sure they know they are loved.

“Every day I get to share my passion for American history. I get the opportunity to be a full-time storyteller and bring history to life for them. I get to teach them to look at history with an analytical eye while remembering the quote that ‘history is a foreign country; they do things differently there,’” she said. “I really intend for my students to leave the class with a newfound appreciation for history and maybe even a love for it.”