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The Tornado Difference – A Whirlwind of Change – Story Honoring Chuck Carter

2009 3rd Place Winnertornado-difference
Madison Hartsock, Student, Union Heights Elementary, Hamblen County

As the students at Union Heights Elementary School (home of the Tornadoes) in Morristown, Tennessee gathered in the gym, excitement filled the air. It was the kick-off for the week of TCAP testing. This was not your average pep rally. To get the crowd pumped, Mr. Chuck Carter showed off his flexibility skills and did a cartwheel on the gym floor, which got the students roaring. They left with smiles on their faces, determination in their hearts, and ready to fill in bubbles!
Sometimes there is that one person who seems to stand out to everyone in the school. At Union Heights, that one person is principal, Mr. Charles (Chuck) Carter. He has been principal for a year and a half and has made a huge impact on this small school. He inspires the UH community to make a difference in the lives of students, teachers, and parents. Mr. Carter shows kindness and caring to all people, motivates students and teachers in learning and community development, and applies the latest technology to provide the best education possible for Union Heights.
Some principals are at their desks as students arrive at school, not Mr. Carter. He is at the drop-off car line greeting the parents and helping the students out of their cars-rain or shine. During morning announcements, Mr. Carter is always ready to start the day in a good mood. When lunch is being served, he will always eat with the students and have a nice chat. He knows all the students by name and always speaks to them in the hallway. He truly cares about each student and how he/she is doing at school. To get the community and Union Heights together, Mr. Carter came up with a party to kick-off the basketball and cheerleader season. People from all over were invited to tailgate or cook their best chili. It was a huge success. Community involvement is a great way to improve relationships at school. Teachers and parents know that Mr. Carter will always take time to listen to their concerns or ideas.
Motivating students and teachers is sometimes difficult, but Mr. Carter can handle it. Despite his crazy schedule, Mr. Carter takes time to teach one of his favorite subjects, writing. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he helps fifth grade practice for their Writing Assessment. He teaches students how to create opening hooks and good story structure. Mr. Carter feels that being in the classroom is a way to connect with students. In order to promote the Summer Reading Program, Mr. Carter organizes a special lunch with him at a “reserved” table and presents all of the participants with a certificate. He has brought little jobs for the students to help out the school. Mr. Carter allows the fifth grade students to collect all of the recycled trash around the school or be responsible for daily raising and taking down the American and Tennessee flags. Students are motivated to do well in school by helping their class earn tornadoes (our school mascot). These tornadoes are signs of good behavior in special areas. Once a class has a certain amount of tornadoes, the classroom will earn a very special award presented by Mr. Carter. Creating an exciting learning environment is always on Mr. Carter’s to do list.
Having the top-notch principal means having the top-notch technology. Before Mr. Carter, there wasn’t much new learning technology at UH. Now, Mr. Carter is working hard to bring new kinds of technology into each classroom. He is introducing Smart Boards and Elmo projectors to Union Heights’ teachers and students. Mr. Carter wants to have each teacher equipped with either an Elmo or Smart Board or both by the end of the year. Union Heights is one of the first schools in Morristown to try out the “Notify Me System.” Thanks to Mr. Carter, our students, parents, and teachers can have messages sent through e-mails and text about current events at school or school closings due to weather. Technology is important to him so that students can learn in a new and modern kind of way.
Mr. Carter has made an enormous difference at Union Heights. The entire school has emerged from the ordinary to the extraordinary. He has just brightened up the school with excitement. Mr. Carter has a vision for the school and he is fulfilling it every day. Through kindness, motivation, and technology, Union Heights will continue to grow with the leadership (and cartwheels) of our new principal. Union Heights is tremendously lucky to have a principal like him!