Five Minutes With: Carl Harrington

Five Minutes With: Carl Harrington

November 22, 2013 


History teacher and virtual museum curator Carl Harrington also holds a national championship in bass fishing.

Q: As a history teacher at East Wake Academy, you have recently received grant money to start a virtual history museum. What is that exactly?

A: I got the idea when a former student of mine came in with a container full of World War I documents and artifacts that belonged to his great-grandfather, who fought in the war. I applied for a Bright Ideas grant and received a scanner so we can scan the documents. We also have the capability to take pictures of items, from all sides – such as a Vietnam gas mask – and we can then place those photos in the museum. It is also great because say something happens, like a fire or the documents are destroyed, at least we have them documented and at least there is a copy of them.

Q: You also recently received another grant, correct?

A: I received another Bright Ideas grant to purchase iPads for my students. They can research a historic event and then shoot or produce a documentary about the event for the other students to see – they can do all of this using the iPads. It is sort of like a news account of the event.

Q: You obviously have a love of history. Did you always dream of one day becoming a history teacher or working in a museum?

A: I had always wanted to attend North Carolina State (University) and I knew I wanted to either be a zoologist, veterinarian, engineer or have a major that dealt with electronics but I have never really been that strong in math and I struggled with some of the engineering classes at State. I had a computer language class that really got me. I have always had a passion for history, but I never really wanted to be a teacher.

Q: Why is that?

A: My mom was a teacher and I can’t really say she discouraged me, but she knew the challenges that came with the career and I knew there was not a lot of monetary award in a job that can be so challenging. Both my sister and I later became teachers. It was the one act of rebellion that we both committed (laughing). My dad though – he was the history buff and I suppose I got my love of it from him. We grew up (in Bertie County) about an hour and a half from Williamsburg (Virginia) so we took a lot of family vacations there. We also took a summer vacation to Gettysburg. He always saw me as a history teacher and even mentioned it to me my senior year in high school. My mom was a math teacher but my sister and I teach history. I taught one year at East Wake High before coming here.

Q: Is American history your favorite? What time period is your favorite?

A: I like the Colonial Period because of the strong personalities, and I also like the Civil War but you know, I think the World War I period is becoming my favorite. When you look into it, so many of the problems that we are dealing with today stem from World War I.

Q: You picked up a love of woodworking from your dad as well.

A: My dad was good – he could make some furniture. And growing up, he would make toys for the kids in our area at Christmas. I mostly make ornaments and fountain pens. I have sold them at craft shows, like Winterfest here at our school.

Q: What are some of your other hobbies?

A: I am a photographer. And I like to garden. I grow Bolivian cucumbers and Jerusalem artichokes. They are perennials and come back every year so it is like no-fuss gardening. I also like to fish, and fly fish when I get the chance. I was on the bass fishing team at State and we won the national championship.

Q: There is a bass fishing team at N.C. State? And you won the national championship?

A: Yes – one of the few we have won in the past 20 years (smiling). It even opened up some opportunities for me while I was at State. I got a job with the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department teaching the kids how to fish. Just the basics, what a hook is, stuff like that. When I get a chance, I like to fish – it is relaxing.

Correspondent Dena Coward

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