Washington theater teacher earns state award

Published 6:44 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

To say Travis Carter is much loved by his students may be an understatement.

Carter is a theater teacher, but he’s also the students’ cheerleader, supporter and confidant. In his 17 years at Washington High School, Carter has undoubtedly left his mark.

Last week, the North Carolina Theatre Conference presented Carter with the Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award — and much to his surprise. Washington High has hosted NCTC’s eastern region festival for 12 years, and this year’s event included 14 plays from nine schools.

“They sprung it on me,” Carter said of the award. “After the first day’s play competition, we had done seven of the plays. We were getting ready to wrap for the night, and they got up there, and they started doing their little speeches and what not. … It caught me off guard. Apparently, several of the teachers around here have known about it for a month.”

Carter said this year’s NCTC festival was special for him because his students won Outstanding Ensemble Cast, as well as third place for their play.

“After 30 years of teaching, I like the kids to be more in the forefront than I am,” he said.

Quozayia Tucker, a soon-to-be junior at Washington High, said she didn’t have a lot of confidence before joining Carter’s class. He helped her overcome the fear of being on stage.

“He’s been here for me ever since ninth grade. This is my house outside of my house. If I need to feel comfortable here, I come to Carter,” Tucker said.

Monique Jones, another of Carter’s students, described the theater teacher as a “cool uncle.”

“When I first got here, I thought Carter was really, really boring. I got here, I said, ‘I’m going to switch out of this class,’” Jones recalled, adding that her opinion soon changed. “He’s really, really caring and nice. … He’s just a cool guy.”

Carter plans to retire after this semester, and as many of his students can attest, theater class won’t be the same. His last day is Jan. 23.

Carter said, in a way, the NCTC award was a culmination of years of hard work and service.

“It means an awful lot to me. I mean, to be recognized for contributions, I mean, it’s sort of like a lifetime achievement award,” Carter said. “It shows that my kids actually were able to get up there and present themselves and draw attention for everybody. To me, it’s all about the kids more than anything else. I would not have gotten that if it had not been for my kids.”