Excellent Educators: North Carolina teacher brings life to history

Excellent Educators

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — Remember your middle school history class about the Magna Carta?

In 1215, it established the rule of law and it’s the foundation for the United States Constitution.

10 On Your Side is profiling an “Excellent Educator” in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, who has found a way to make so many topics in history exciting, and relevant for teenagers in her class.

Her name is Athena Sivongsa, and she’s figured out a way to bring life to history and to the headlines.

One chapter at a time, Sivongsa often dresses in costumes to help illustrate and explain the lesson of the day.

“There has to be a westward route to the far East,” Christopher Columbus may have mused.


“Give me liberty or give me death.” said Virginia Attorney Patrick Henry.

A young mother may have sang “oh what a beautiful morning” as she moved her family to Oklahoma.

Eighth-grade history class at River Road Middle school in Elizabeth City, North Carolina may never be the same.

“I know that most students don’t like history so I have to find a way to engage them and kind of reach out pull them in, so I think that by being silly that really helps,” Sivongsa said.

But the tone can shift from silly to serious based on the history and today’s headlines.

“Right now we are talking about the Chinese Exclusion Act, there again it’s very pertinent to what’s going on in the news, added Sivongsa.

She also uses History Channel shows such as The Food that Built America as inspiration

“If that’s your passion go ahead there’s some outrageous history about it that you are going to love.
And the students love Mrs. Sivongsa. Principal Adrian Fonville told 10 On Your Side that Sivongsa is an out-of-the-box educator who is the epitome of what a professional educator should be,” wrote Fonville.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WAVY Twitter Widget

***Don’t Miss Module Removal CSS***

WAVY Facebook