Take 5 with Elizabeth Felts
NHCS' educator of the year
It’s no coincidence that ELIZABETH FELTS, a service learning class instructor and the 2020-21 New Hanover County Schools’ Educator of the Year, pursued her career as a teacher after an internship in the school system. When she was twenty-one, as a psychology student in Maryland, Felts hosted service learning projects for student groups. “That really motivated me to totally change career paths,” she says. Fast-forward a little over ten years, while teaching at New Hanover High School, she’s received the county school system’s highest honor for her field, along with Hendrick Toyota of Wilmington’s gift of a 2020 Toyota RAV4 for a year. Felts began at NHHS as an English teacher in 2011. In her fourth year, she launched the school’s Honors Service Learning class for juniors and seniors. In 2018, a similar course for underclassmen, called the BRIDGE program, followed. In both programs, students volunteer in the local community and subsequently explore careers, as part of their coursework. “The goal is to help them become lifelong learners and responsible citizens,” Felts says.
Take 5 with Elizabeth Felts
What’s your biggest influence as an educator?
“My students are what motivate me more than anything else because they’re so resilient and inspiring. They deserve a great teacher, so that’s always what gets me up in the morning and drives me to be better.”
Did you have a favorite teacher growing up?
“I was fortunate to have a few teachers who I was really grateful for throughout the years, but one that I still keep up with is Coach Crump. I did not get to have him until my second semester senior year. I was over academics, over school and reading and writing, but he infused a love of learning back into me, and I still try to channel his energy into my classroom.”
If not teaching, what career would you pursue “in another life”?
“Aside from education, I’m supremely passionate about ending domestic violence. I spend a lot of my energy and time trying to be an advocate and supporter for survivors, so perhaps something that would be with that. But, I also just really love food, so maybe I would learn how to cook better and make lots of yummy food all the time.”
If asked to give two words to describe you, what would your students choose?
“The words that have honored me the most have been ‘innovative’ and ‘passionate.’ Through my entire teaching career, I’ve really tried to look at how we’re approaching education, who is learning and how.”
Do you have young students of your own?
“Yes, I have a five-year-old named James and a three-year-old named Emmy. And, I have been their at-home teacher since March 13 (because of COVID). That has been its own beautiful mess! They’ve motivated me as well.”
ELIZABETH FELTS’ full profile will appear in an upcoming WILMA Roundup email.
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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