Excellent Educators is a WAVY-TV 10 initiative to celebrate local teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students and communities during the last academic year. These Excellent Educators were nominated by their school divisions. Congratulations to these educators for all of their hard work and accomplishments!

Name: Shannon Byrum

School division: Edenton-Chowan Public Schools

Position: Eighth grade math teacher at Chowan Middle School

What the school division said about this Excellent Educator: Shannon Byrum is very deserving of this nomination because she stepped up to take on an entire grade level of math students when we were unable to fill the vacant math position She has mentored a long-term substitute, asynchronously taught graded, and managed the math instruction for all students.

When faced with the decision to focus on only her own core group of students and allow another core group to not have the same access to quality math instruction, Byrum rose to the challenge. She was the first to suggest that she would do whatever it took to ensure all students learned math. Selflessly, she has given her time and effort to every student. Often, she can be found moving between two rooms to ensure all students have some face-to-face access to her. She reviews the entire grade level data and makes provisions and instructional decisions that are in the best interest of all students. Byrum is over and beyond dedicated to her students, her school, and her community.

WAVY TV 10’s Andy Fox had the opportunity to interview this educator.

Chowan Middle School Math Teacher Shannon Byrum has been a teacher 27 years. 

“The old saying, kids don’t care how much you know until they know that you care,” said Byrum. 

At Chowan Middle School, Byrum keeps her 8th grade math students thinking and moving. In an exercise to answer math questions, students have to flock to one of the corners of the room that is assigned as the answer to the question, the other corner is assigned as the wrong answer.  

As a child, Byrum would play “pretend teacher” with her brother.

“I was playing the teacher and he wanted to play farming. I’d always say let’s teach first, then farm, and then he would fall for it every time because I would say let’s teach and then farm and then once we played teacher then I’d say I’m done,” she said with a laugh.  

In teaching, Byrum says her philosophy is that you have got to have heart.

“You have to have a heart for it. If you don’t you are in the wrong profession.” 

When the school could not fill a vacant 8th-gradeth grade math position, Byrum stepped up to teach math to the entire grade of 140 students. She would be in one class, and the other teacher would be in a room across the hall.    

“I would google a meeting, which means I’m teaching other students in the other class who are logged on through their computer.” 

In the other class was long term substitute teacher Rhonda Ainsley whom Byrum gives great credit for making things happen with getting children educated.  

“There were some days where I would step across the hallway and go into the classroom and teach where the other teacher would come over here, and do an independent activity with students where they would be in charge of it themselves…she would be there to answer questions…and connect the dots on the lesson.” 

Byrum also believes they have not lost a beat in the education of children,  

“It has allowed for those other students to get the same quality of education they would have gotten had we jammed all 55-60 kids in a classroom every day.” 

Students love her. Student Desmond Wilson says Byrum is always there to give he and his classmates support and advice.

“Whenever we are struggling with something you can always go up to her get help and advice on how to do it.” 

Byrum also loves the quotation “nothing is impossible.” The word says Im possible. 

“It’s so possible for them to be a great student when they’ve never been a great student. They can be a great friend, to be a great citizen.” 

She knows she’s made a difference when she is given praise from her students.

“When they come up to you, and say I love you, or have a good day, or you were out for a few days, and I missed you, or is everything ok? That’s when you know you’ve really done something.”