By Jennifer Ginn
Laura Carter says you have to keep kids interested in class. From the looks of it, she seems to be doing a pretty good job.
Carter, business teacher at the Allen County Career and Technical Center, recently was named the Outstanding Business Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Business Education Association.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I was first of all shocked to even be nominated. That was amazing and I was very appreciative of it. That would have been fine in itself. When I went to the ceremony and I ended up winning the award, I was just in shock.”
This is Carter’s 16th year in the classroom, all of which have been spent in Allen County. She teaches digital literacy, multimedia, advanced multimedia and Web page design. She said she’s enjoyed her time teaching business classes.
“The kids get to be hands-on in business,” Carter said. “It’s not necessarily like your everyday classroom. You do lecture and you do present them with new concepts, but you get to be so hands on and make it a real-life, real-world experience. That’s what draws me in.”
That desire to create a hands-on experience permeates her multimedia publishing classes, where students work on projects that members of the community pay for them to do.
“Projects like prom tickets, we actually do those for the school and they, in turn, sell those,” Carter said. “We run the Patriot Printing Press within the multimedia class. We do menus for restaurants in town; they’re used every day. We make T-shirt designs for people. They take our design and go to T-shirt places and use them. Any of the passes for people getting into our ball games, we design them.”
Carter said the walls of her classroom are covered in projects designed by students and other designs she finds interesting that may serve as an inspiration.
“I try to show lots and lots of previous designs,” she said. “I keep things that I find at restaurants or newsletters that I find. I like to show them what it might look like.
“You’ve just got to be encouraging and you’ve got to make it fun and make it inviting to them (students). Show them examples and say, ‘Hey, other kids did this. You can do this too.’”
Carter said she was inspired to become a business teacher by one of her teachers at what was then known as the Allen County Vocational School.
“I had a great teacher, Paige Tabor,” she said. “She had a love for teaching and a love for kids. You wanted to be in her room. Whenever you were in her room, you could see what all you could do. That kind of got me involved and wanting to teach classes.”
Not only did Tabor provide Carter with the inspiration to become a business teacher, but Carter also took over Tabor’s job when she became a guidance counselor at Allen County-Scottsville High School.
“She was very conscientious about her work and she just enjoyed the class,” Tabor said of her former student and now colleague. “She was just a sweet, young girl, quiet. We had a good relationship, I guess! I hope I did with all of them. I know I did with her.”
Tabor said Carter’s classes are in high demand at the career and technical center and Carter takes an interest in the lives of her students.
“I know from working in the guidance office,” said Tabor, “she doesn’t let things slide. If a student is having problems at home or whatever type of a problem is happening in a child’s personal life, she wants to know it. They confide in her a lot of the time.
“She’s a good person. She’s a good role model who’s well-liked by the faculty and very deserving (of the award). I’m proud of her and proud for her.”
That kind of caring for her students shows when Carter is asked what kind of advice she would give to new teachers.
“One of the first things I would tell them is those kids are your babies and you need to treat them as if they were your own kids,” she said. “Even though they’re in your classroom to learn, they also need love. You need to make sure you set rules and guidelines, but you’ve got to make it fun for them. They’re yours to love and teach and inspire.”
Laura Carter firstname.lastname@example.org
Kentucky Business Education Association http://www.kbea.org/