For Educators, By Educators.

There are many different types of learning experiences on this site, many of which have been created by educators in Virginia for their students.

Educators are all of those who are teaching, including media specialists, librarians, curriculum specialists, after-school specialists, caregivers, homeschool teachers, and more. There are so many different ways we all touch the lives of students, and Virginia Humanities Education is working to make it easier for folks of all learning styles to engage with the humanities, from the elementary level to the high school level and beyond. 

This site is created to provide educators with numerous activities, resources, and content that are Virginia SOL aligned, with different types of media incorporated to create a truly inclusive learning experience. Much of the content created on this site can be used in either a virtual or physical setting, and it is our hope that educators can pull out whatever they need from lessons (or use the entire lesson based on their needs). 

Virginia Humanities Education is working hard to make this space accessible to all. It means captions, alternative text, and learning experiences that are designed for many different kinds of learners. Is there something missing? Let us know.

Male teacher at front of classroom giving presentation


Savannah Baber

Savannah Baber

Coordinator for Virginia Indian Programs

Emma Ito

Director of Education

Karice Luck-Brimmer

Program Associate, Community Initiatives
Yahusef Medina

Yahusef Medina

Director, Community Initiatives

Virginia Humanities Educator Fellowship

Virginia Humanities Educator Fellows are folks from all around Virginia committed to teaching the humanities for K-12 students. Fellows meet, learn, and work together over nine months, all while creating the learning experiences you can find on the Virginia Humanities Education website. 

Meet Our Class of 2024 Educator Fellows

Teaching in a rural, former coal-mining and tobacco growing region, I am both an English literature instructor, as well as a history/civics/ folklore instructor in our local high school, and at a local university in East Tennessee. For the past ten years, I have brought both high school and university students out of their shells to share their stories and understand our local histories and culture; all to better inform those around us and around the world. Additionally, I have been a guest lecturer for Eighteenth Century British Drama and Fiction at Oxford University for three years, as well as a lecturer in Scots-Irish/Appalachian folklore at the University of Edinburgh. All these experiences combined have led me to working with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum-Bristol to help visitors, students, and educators dig deeper into the rich and diverse culture we have in Appalachia. Through this fellowship, I hope to further my research into our area, along with the rest of our great state, to continue sharing the importance Virginia still is in the history of our nation; along with the vitality of the Appalachian region in the early history and growth of the state and nation. This is in conjunction with sharing the “true” story of Appalachia as not a region of disparity, but of history which changed the world, rich storytelling, an Indigenous and European melting pot, and the agricultural lifeblood for our early nation through the recent 21st century.

I am Alynn Parham, a social studies teacher at Jamestown High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, where I teach World Geography, World History II, and African-American History. I also serve as the Junior Varsity Scholastic Bowl team coach and co-sponsor of the African American Heritage 365 Scholastic Bowl. I am also an active member of the Williamsburg-James City County Education Association. I am looking forward to delving deeper into the stories and experiences of Black Americans during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow era and their impact on today’s society. This critical period marked the rise of Black Power and the advocacy for reform in the political and educational systems in the United States. I plan to use my time during this fellowship to create and provide classroom instruction for my students.

Anne Walker brings extensive educational experience spanning over two decades, covering levels from Kindergarten to High School, showcasing her proficiency in teaching. Recognizing her dedication, Anne was awarded the 2019 James Madison Fellowship in Virginia. Anne holds a Masters in American History and Government from Ashland University, highlighting her commitment to ongoing learning. Actively participating in professional organizations, Anne is a member of the Virginia Council for Social Sciences and serves as a Secondary Schools Board representative at the National Council for Social Studies. Anne’s involvement extends to the National Constitution Center’s Teacher Advisory Council and the iCivics Steering Committee, contributing to shaping the educational landscape. Currently teaching Government in Fairfax County, she eagerly anticipates her upcoming role teaching Dual Enrollment American History and Dual Enrollment Government in Prince William County from Fall 2024. As a 2024 Virginia Humanities Fellow, Anne is conducting research on Virginia’s Native Americans’ role in the American Revolution, aiming to address a gap in the state’s history curriculum. She looks forward to searching out Virginia’s untold stories.

Blair Amberly is a third grade teacher at Free Union Country School, located just outside Charlottesville. He teaches all subjects, trying to infuse a love of poetry, respect for the natural world, and a healthy sense of “who really has the power in this story” into all parts of the school day. So much of teaching and learning is about perspective and Blair hopes to use this fellowship to collaborate with other professionals and master teachers to expand his perspective as well as those of his students. His particular focus is on the Indigenous people from the central Virginia region (the Monacan Nation).

Evan Liddiard teaches Humanities for Lynnhaven School, a project-based learning co-educational high school in Richmond, Virginia. He comes to the classroom from a diverse and varied background, including experiences working for a US Senator and co-owning a French bakery. For the past 15 years he has worked in the field of public history and education, most recently as a civics teacher for Chesterfield County and an adjunct history professor for the Virginia Community College System. Previous work includes the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, the Library of Virginia, and Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation where he focused on inquiry and primary source learning. Mr. Liddiard received both his BA and MA in American History from VCU, with concentrations in 20th century American history, public history, and history education. Originally from Utah, he has made Virginia his home for nearly 40 years. During his free time he enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with his wife, Katie, daughters, Vera and Cora, and their blue heeler, Kiwi.

I am a high school history teacher who lives in Richmond, Virginia. I have taught at Highland Springs High (right outside the city) for nine years and now mostly teach AP and Dual Enrollment sections of United States history. I am also a Nationally Board Certified Teacher and am working on my master’s in history through the Gilder-Lehrman program at Gettysburg College. In my spare time, I like to cook, run, read and spend time with my three-year-old daughter, Maggie. My spouse and I like to garden, so we’ve been spending a lot of the past few weeks teaching Maggie how to prep our garden for Spring. I am looking forward to diving into the historical record on enslaved Virginians and their relationship to the legal system. It’s incredibly important to understand our history with slavery and the ways that the enslaved themselves navigated the institution. I think even very knowledgeable people can underestimate just how pervasive slavery was in American society, but research keeps finding more and more ways the institution seeped into every imaginable corner of American life.

Dr. Velvet L. Smith brings over 20 years of experience in education to her role as the Education Director at Horizons Hampton Roads. Specializing in special education and reading, she focuses on creating immersive and engaging learning experiences that encourage critical thinking and self-reflection in students. Driven by her belief in making education relatable, engaging, and impactful, Dr. Smith is inspired by Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of excellence through uncommon approaches to common tasks. Her goal is to stretch young minds and connect them more deeply with the world around them. As a recent Virginia Humanities Educator Fellow, Dr. Smith is embarking on an exploratory journey into the complexities of the juvenile justice system with her research topic, “Beyond the Verdict: Cultivating Critical Perspectives on Juvenile Justice.” Through this fellowship, she is eager to delve into the themes of justice and equality, focusing particularly on the juvenile justice system’s implications for young individuals and the broader quest for equitable treatment under the law. Dr. Smith looks forward to learning how interdisciplinary approaches—drawing from education, humanities, and legal studies—can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of juvenile justice issues. She is excited to discover innovative strategies to integrate this critical knowledge into educational curricula, aiming to empower educators and students alike with a deeper understanding of justice and equality.

Meet Our Class of 2023 Educator Fellows

Nasiyah Isra-Ul is a senior at Liberty University, a homeschool graduate, and a budding homeschool coach. She is also the founder of Canary Academy Online Inc, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to provide equitable access to homeschool resources and support. She especially enjoys coaching homeschooling parents and students on how to effectively leverage technology and digital tools to maximize their homeschooling budgets while making learning engaging and personalized. As a young leader, Nasiyah loves mentoring youth, volunteering in local organizations, participating in community leadership opportunities, and staying active in her honor society memberships. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book or isn’t managing a national nonprofit, Nasiyah enjoys spending time with family (sibling, parents, and a dog), tutoring, and furthering her interest in multicultural cooking.

Amy Sherman is an instructional specialist with the Office of English Learners in Arlington Public Schools. In her work, she supports PreK though 12th grade educators with teaching academic content to students who are identified as English learners. Particular areas of professional interest include fostering student-to-student discourse and promoting English language development during content instruction. Amy previously taught the English language to students in Japan, Maryland, and Virginia. She has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in teaching English to speakers of other languages and has recently completed a doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Virginia. With this fellowship, Amy is hoping to develop learning experiences that help students see themselves as part of Virginia’s future history.

Tiya Shaw is a graduate of Fisk University. She holds a license in K-12 Administration as well as a Masters in Education Administration. Additionally, she has been teaching for 18 years. Currently, Tiya is the ITRT (Instructional Technology Resource Teacher) for K-5 in Spotsylvania County Public School, along with being the division’s History Liaison for Elementary K-5. She takes pride in creating and implementing engaging lessons based on exploration. 

Recently she has partnered with the Virginia Geographic Alliance (VGA) to create engaging digital content for the online Atlas of Virginia. She also sits on the board for the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project and works as a teacher consultant for this incredible program. Tiya Shaw is the creator of GeoLit Labs and the production manager of VA GeoExplorers. 

The most important part of Tiya Shaw is her 3 daughters, who inspire her everyday to lead a life of joy, innovation and love. 

Andrew Abeyounis is a Social Studies teacher at Grafton High School in Yorktown, Virginia. In his 6 years of teaching, he has taught average level World History and AP World History. He also virtually teaches World Geography, World History 1, and World History 2 for York County. He has worked as a College Board rater for the AP US History Exam for 3 years. Mr. Abeyounis also created a National History Honors Society at his school which encourages students to create projects to compete in National History Day. He has created lessons for multiple programs including an NEH program in the summer of 2022, the Virginia Department of Education’s Echoes program, and the Korean War Legacy Foundation. Mr. Abeyounis has a B.A. in Government and History from the College of William and Mary, a Master’s in Public History from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s in Education from Christopher Newport University. Mr. Abeyounis looks forward to networking with other teachers and historians from around the state and to learn how he can best connect his students with creative and relevant learning opportunities.

I am a 6th grade social studies teacher, currently living and teaching in Charlottesville, but originally from Amherst County, VA. I have a cat named Mona who will be a constant feature of any virtual meetings. History was always the most fascinating to me when I was in school, and I had amazing teachers who inspired me to enter the field. One thing that I realized when going through school was that so many voices were left out of our historical narrative. That was something that was reaffirmed when I began teaching and as we began re-working our curriculum to better represent all historical narratives. I am looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other educators who have different skills sets and specialities to try and improve how I teach. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to take the time to develop the best work possible. So much of teaching involves doing the best with what we are given, and I am looking forward to having the freedom and resources to create useful and engaging material to bring unheard voices to the front.

My name is Angela Harman and I have spent over 20 years as an educator and currently am in my 2nd year as Library Media Specialist at Valley Institute Elementary. I have spent the majority of my career as an ESL teacher in 5th grade. Currently I am the Director-Elect of the Clinch Region of VAASL (Virginia Association of School Libraries) and former Elementary Teacher of the Year for Washington County Virginia Schools. I have served on many committees within the county and state and am happy to report that my job as Library Media Specialist is one of the most fulfilling adventures I have experienced in my professional career. I am pleased and honored to be chosen as a Virginia Humanities K-12 Education Fellow and look forward to all that this entails. I believe that I am most excited about collaborating with fellow educators across the state as we work to create lesson plans and content for other K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms.

Meet Our Class of 2022 Educator Fellows

I am currently the secondary social studies specialist for Henrico County Schools after working for two years as an English and History Specialist with the Virginia Department of Education, two years as a high school associate principal, and 10 years as a middle school history teacher. I am looking forward to learning alongside such a diverse group of educators and following everyone down their own, unique history rabbit holes.

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As the Tribal Liaison for the Virginia Tribal Education Consortium (VTEC), Kara Canaday opens the line of communication between the seven (7) federally recognized Tribes of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), and Virginia’s public-school districts. During her 4.5 years of teaching Special Education, Kara was the 2019-2020 Charles City Elementary School Teacher of the Year as well as the 2019-2020 Charles City County Division Teacher of the Year.

Kara has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in 2016, where she majored in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and minored in Special Education. In 2019, she earned a Master of Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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I am the Assistant Principal at Hilton Elementary in Scott County. I am also the Gifted Coordinator for the school division. This is my 16th year working in Scott County Schools. As a teacher, I taught Civics, World Geography, and World History. Personally, I am a mom to a 4-year-old girl and a 9-month-old little boy. I have a great interest in connecting my small rural area of Southwest Virginia to the rest of the state. I would like to help my students in rural Virginia understand their role in our state’s past, present, and future.

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I am a native of Brooklyn, New York. I received my undergraduate from Virginia Union University; my graduate degree from the University of Mary Washington. I have been teaching for over twenty years. My focus of interests-(expertise?) is Holocaust and genocide studies. I have received numerous fellowships relating to Holocaust and Genocide, including: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights; The Defiant Requiem’s Raphael Schachter Teaching Fellow; Echoes and Reflection Advanced Seminar Teaching Fellow; The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Alfred Lerner Teaching Fellow.

I am looking forward to expanding my pedagogy in the areas of the Humanities. It is my hope that I can create a project that will honor the voices of survivors of genocide and the Holocaust.

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I am a high school history teacher and currently teach US and Ancient World History. I am really looking forward to working with a diverse group of people and creating diverse plans that I can use in my class.

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I am a middle school history teacher in Prince William County, Virginia. I teach USII history in 7th grade at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia. I am always striving to find ways to incorporate local stories into our standards and learning experiences. In so many ways, Virginia is central to US history, but usually teachers address only the same stories and events repeatedly or superficially. I remain motivated to locate primary sources, stories, and events that validate the multitude of people that have contributed to Virginia’s past, present, and future.

I have a BA in history. It was my first love, teaching came later. I am currently in an MA program for American History. I hope to teach at the community college level once I complete this degree.

I have three grown children in college right now (not one of them is majoring in history!) My husband is retired from the Army, and we settled in Northern Virginia because we just loved the traffic here in the DMV. Seriously, we did two tours in Northern Virginia and from the beginning, it just felt like home. I am terribly excited to participate in this fellowship with all of you! I look forward to getting to know you and learning from you. It is always such a pleasure to work with like-minded educators and historians. Discovering new, innovative ways to present hidden moments from the past to students is thrilling and what keeps me going in this wearisome field (public education).

Shannon Outlaw is the Head Librarian for Middle School for Fairfax County Public Schools. Shannon started teaching in Virginia in 2003. Since then, Shannon noticed that there is a lack of focus and in-depth curriculum content on the role of Black women in Virginia’s history and the present day. Shannon shared; “For example, the Virginia Studies curriculum introduces Maggie Walker in the elementary grades; however, the subject is not expanded upon or given depth in upper grades and is treated as an additional fact to memorize and ‘diversity’ the curriculum. Not only does this affect student learning, but as a former elementary librarian and current secondary librarian, I have noticed that teachers and administrators are often unfamiliar with African American historical figures who are not emphasized in both elementary and secondary curricula. Topics such as lynching, redlining, and the distinct role that Virginia has played in American slavery should not be skipped over or whitewashed. As educators, we must find appropriate resources that can be used with all students.”

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I am an artist and an educator born in Colombia and now living in Richmond since 2015. My main activities involve facilitating art programs for youth with organizations like Sacred Heart Center, Virginia Community Voice and Initiatives Of Change USA, along with independent art projects for murals, portraits or installations throughout the Richmond Region. 

With this fellowship, I’m looking forward to all of the different perspectives and conversations that we can open up about the education in Virginia, while creating something to connect those conversations with a wider learning and teaching path.

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I resided in Virginia for much of my childhood and graduated from Harrisonburg High School. Following earning a degree at Bethany College (WV), I completed a year of Brethren Volunteer Service working with the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (DC) and Community Family Life Services. Over nearly twenty years in public education, I have taught World Geography, Virginia and United States History, Civics and Economics and United States History II. While I enjoy teaching at Cumberland Middle School, my wife, Casey and our three children live in Appomattox County.

The past few years, I have been given the opportunity to develop curricula for multiple entities, where I placed an emphasis on using local primary sources relating to Reconstruction, Responses to Jim Crow and Public Education in the early 20th Century. I look forward to continuing this work with the Virginia Humanities Educator Cohort as it is an opportunity to collaborate with brilliant educators from across the state to facilitate a more accurate, relevant, and engaging student experience.

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Greetings! I am Catherine Breese, the Lead Technology Resource Teacher for Montgomery County Public Schools in Virginia. I have been a teacher in the public schools of Virginia and West Virginia for 28 years. I am a Google Certified Trainer and an ISTE Certified Educator. I embrace lifelong learning, critical and creative thinking as the center of good instruction, and all things fun in the classroom and the workplace. It is my mission to bring joy to teachers and students through the learning experience. I am thrilled to be a part of this Virginia Humanities Fellowship team, and I look forward to collaborating with fine educators from across the commonwealth. Designing instruction is a passion for me, and I am looking forward to jumping into the design process.

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My experiences in Virginia are lifelong: I grew up in Wise County, VA, and completed my English BA with a minor in theater at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and my English MA with a Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies at Virginia Tech. My MA thesis research analyzed how nonhuman characters in popular contemporary children’s animated film franchises are racialized, exploring aesthetic legacies of blackface minstrelsy and racial caricatures. As an English, Journalism, and Africana Studies teacher at Waynesboro High School, I create culturally-relevant interdisciplinary learning experiences that center marginalized peoples and help students understand the historical roots of contemporary inequality. I’m also proud to serve as a co-sponsor of the WHS Anti-Racism Club and as the co-chair of the WHS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

In my role as an Educator Fellow, I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Virginia Humanities staff and educators across the state to design learning experiences about interracial solidarity movements and interactions between disenfranchised groups in Virginia. Ultimately, I’m excited to learn how to better teach students that the past does not stay in the past — it deeply saturates the present. If we can understand how systems of power are made, we can learn how to unmake them.

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I am the library media specialist at Bath County High School in Hot Springs, VA. Prior to this position, I was the library media specialist at Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, VA for nearly a decade. I value libraries as safe spaces where students can extend their classroom learning. I look forward to learning more about bringing diversity and inclusion to Virginia’s classroom by participating in this fellowship.

Contact Us

Have questions? Interested in learning more? Reach out to us.

Request a Speaker

Interested in collaborating? In need of a Professional Development Workshop? Let us know what you need, and we’ll see how we can help you. 


Additional Resources for Educators

BackStory Classroom Connections

BackStory Logo - Virginia Humanities

Our BackStory podcast uses current events in America to take a deep dive into our past. Hosted by noted U.S. historians, each episode provides listeners with different perspectives on a particular theme or subject – giving you all sides to the story and then some.

Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, more than a dozen BackStory episodes include lesson plans, handouts, and more resources for teachers.

Encyclopedia Virginia

EV's Peter Hedlund presenting to teachers in Northern VA

Our Encyclopedia Virginia includes more than 1,000 entries about Virginia’s history accompanied by primary documents and media objects, including images, audio and video clips, and links to Google Street View tours of historic sites. It’s a great resource for teachers to use in the classroom or in preparing their lessons.

Review Entries by Virginia Standards of Learning

Unmasking Cville

Justin Reid makes introductions before a panel discussion about the history of racism in Charlottesville during Unmasking Cville at Piedmont Virginia Community College

#UnmaskingCville community partner Virginia Education Association provided resources for teachers and parents including tips on recognizing and correcting bias in the classroom, and steps to help educators connect with all students, no matter their background.

Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America

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Harvest of Empire is a documentary film that provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada.

With Good Reason – Voices of Vietnam

In an eight-part special series, our With Good Reason radio program explored the unresolved tensions in our understanding of the Vietnam War and the perspectives and people it forever changed. Thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, each episode includes lesson plans and other resources to help teach students about the Vietnam War.