Q & A with Beth Whitfield


Shelby Larcher, News Writer

Ms. Beth Whitfield is a Junior and an Ap English teacher at Lakeland High School. This is her second year at Lakeland. While being an English teacher she is also working hard to get her Ph.D. degree. 

  1. What’s your background, where did you get your undergraduate and graduate degrees?

I received both of my degrees from the University of Idaho. UI is affordable and provides an excellent quality of education…Go, Vandals! I’ve taught at the university level, at private American international schools overseas, in China and Abu Dhabi, and at public schools in the US.

  1. What inspired you to start working towards your Ph.D.?

I am passionate about policy and research in education. I knew I would need a Ph.D. to work on major projects to inform change in policy.

  1. When did you know that you wanted to get your Ph.D.?

When I was near the end of my Master’s degree, I knew at some point I would go on to get my Ph.D. I was hoping to get it before 30! However, I will be a year past that when it’s completed.

  1. What is your research about?

My research focuses on how to better prepare in-service Idaho teachers to support English language learners in their classrooms, especially in rural districts across the state.

  1. What surprising things have you found because of your research?

The very low graduation rates of English language learners, in addition to the achievement gap between these students and their native-speaking peers. With further research, it is clear this is a result of the lack of training and preparedness of content teachers to meet the needs of these learners. 

  1. How long is it going to take you in total to get your Ph.D.?

PhDs typically take between 4 to 6 years to complete. Mine will be completed within 4 years, and that is with working full-time on top of it! Let’s just say it takes A LOT of commitment. 

  1. How do you balance it with your day-to-day life?

I schedule my school work and stick to it. I pick days and times to complete my work and do it no matter what during those times. It helps me separate my work life, school life, and personal life. I also make sure I stick to a healthy sleep schedule, and that I always make time to work out and stay healthy.

  1. Where are you getting your degree from?

University of Idaho–College of Education

  1. How do you feel that this is going to make you a better teacher and fit in with your future?

A major benefit of receiving a Ph.D. is it transitions you into a researcher. You learn advanced statistics and research methods. It allows me to see issues analytically, notice trends in data, and problem-solving. Long-term, I will end up in a career in research. 

  1. Finally, is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

I would encourage students to always pursue their long-term dreams. Although it can be challenging, you’ll feel a huge sense of fulfillment.