Passionate in and out of the classroom

Lily Wichert, Copy Editor

You’ve probably seen World Cultures and AP Human Geography teacher Mr. Matthew Maris in the halls of Bellefonte High. While his passion for teaching history surely shines through in the classroom, what you probably don’t know is that Mr. Maris spends time outside of the school teaching locals about the history of Bellefonte. Since Fall of 2019, Mr. Maris has led many walking tours around Centre County, teaching people things about the Civil War, potential haunted locations, and historical figures in our own town.

After studying Secondary Education and Social Studies at Lock Haven University, Mr. Maris furthered his passion for teaching history. It wasn’t until an internship at the Centre County Library where Mr. Maris became more intrigued with history on a local level.

“I helped digitize something of their collections and put it online, so it was cool to see,” Mr. Maris said.
By going through significant historical documents that belonged to the county, Mr. Maris described the internship to be “like a treasure hunt.”

“One of the things I came across was a letter signed by Willian McKinely. Being able to connect with history in a local way is the best way to connect with it,” Mr. Maris said.

With the help of a fellow teacher Mr. Dustin Elder who taught U.S. History and AP Economics at BAHS just a few years ago, Mr. Maris produces informative videos following different stories related to Bellefonte history.

“The whole point of it is to help people connect with local history. There might be events, articles, or videos that are presented in an engaging way,” Mr. Maris said.

Mr. Maris and Mr. Edler together run Local Historia LLC, including various social media accounts where individuals can access their mission in sharing their passions for local history.

“Our thing is to be creative and to make history fun, active, and get outside,” Mr. Maris said.

Fellow history teacher Mrs. Christine Morris shares Mr. Maris’s love for local history, and has accompanied him on various walking tours around Bellefonte.

“Mr. Maris’s love of local history is evident not only with his students, but also with the videos that he has been producing of small towns in Pennsylvania,” Mrs. Morris said.

On his mission to preserve the history of the Bellefonte community, Mr. Maris has gathered a large following of interested individuals within the county that seek to learn more about the town.

“The whole point of it all is to learn and value local history. First of all, it is one of the best ways to connect with local history because you are familiar with it, you pass by it every day,” Mr. Maris said.

“When you learn about something, you are more likely to want to preserve it. You can learn it, love it, and preserve it.”

The next time you see Mr. Maris in the halls of Bellefonte High, be sure to ask him about the history of our own town. To learn more about Mr. Maris and his journey, you can follow @localhistoria_com on Instagram.