#WhyIChoseEducation: “We are all part of a wider community of people who want our world to be better tomorrow than it is today,” says Carl Harris’ 98EDD


As a first-generation college student, Carl Harris ’fascination with education began at an early age when he saw how knowledge could open up opportunities. Now how Chairman of the Board of the State Pedagogical College NChe works to support educational growth for others.

Harris, who played basketball in Division II while earning a bachelor’s degree from Southwestern Minnesota State University, began working as a physical education teacher and soon moved into administration as an assistant director.

“All the strength of teacher support has been a real inspiration to me,” Harris said.

In the coming decades, Harris will continue to hold a number of leadership positions in education in North Carolina, including as head of public schools in Durham. Throughout his career, he has done his mission to support teachers and students.

“These children have dreams, and in order for them to realize their dreams, they need adults who inspire adults who can nurture those dreams and give them the knowledge to fulfill those dreams,” Harris said.

Every day, Harris said, he saw the impact educators could have.

“We are all part of a wider community of people who want our world to be better tomorrow than it is today,” Harris said.

In addition to the experience Harris gained during his career, he also honed his leadership skills at NC State Education College, where he received Ed.D. in education management in 1998.

“There were wonderful professors who trusted me as a student who helped nurture my desire to know more about leadership, more about the curriculum, more about how to support learning in school and really hone some of the things I learned during some previous roles, ”Harris said.

In 2010, Harris was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Policy and Strategic Initiatives. In this role, among other responsibilities, he focused on identifying policies and strategic initiatives that will promote and support education across the country.

“Every child has a role to play in participating in America’s great society, and we need to give every child a set of skills, knowledge, and tools for full participation,” Harris said.

The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

Why I chose education:

Education pushed me, and because it helped to help me get the career opportunities I wanted to be a part of. I think intuitively it made me think about how to help someone do the same.

There are so many people who have dreams and strive to do what they imagine. But I quickly realized that if you’re going to make those dreams come true, you need to understand what it takes to get there, and what it takes to survive when you’re there. All of this is included in a continuous way of teaching yourself what you want to do and how you want to do it.

How education shaped me:

Education has always inspired me to think creatively, to think about life today and how you prepare for life tomorrow.

The longer I lived, the more I saw how quickly life changed. You look at how fast technology is changing, or just look at how the world is getting smaller every day. We now have tools that can instantly connect us to virtually anywhere in the world, and that’s a significant change. When we experience this today, you begin to think that it will be tomorrow or the next day.

When I was the principal of an elementary school in Franklin County, I enjoyed seeing little five-year-olds so inspired to come to school because school was a big thing they heard from their families.

As a director, I saw how excited these young people were, and that the role that adults will play over the next 12-15 years will set the stage for many, many things they will be able to do throughout their lives.

For me, it was a very, very effective way to look at the power of education. In this preparatory phase, you give people these tools that allow them to make their own choices in the future. But without tools you won’t have as many choices, and so you just want to give everyone as many educational tools as possible so they can decide how they want to live their lives and how they want to participate in a fast-moving society.

Why I chose the educational guide:

The whole management part helps people get to where they are trying to go. What inspired me as an educator is really to be part of equipping each person with a set of skills that allow them to choose what inspires him in terms of career, because this career perspective is related to how you are involved in improving lives for yourself, but also make life better for others. Because we all have individual interests, my role has always been not to try to dictate what a person will be, but to give them a set of skills so that no matter what they decide they want to do in their lives, they have a set skills they can adapt to.

Time has passed, and as we see today, in education, we need to give students a set of adaptive skills because we don’t know what careers will be available to people in five years, in 10 years. So many of these quarries haven’t even been created yet. It’s the beauty of living in a progressive society that you don’t really know. But you also know that if you have adaptive skills that no matter what happens tomorrow, you know enough today and you can continue to learn enough tomorrow that no matter what you will be able to continue your full involvement in where no matter how the world leads us.

What I like most about college education:

I am part of a great team of people. One thing that is constant is that [NC State College of Education Board] – is a team of people who support the college, support the dean and support the faculty, and we do our best to be news agents in communities outside the university in a very positive way.

Ever since I was on the board, I have had to meet wonderful people who are very, very passionate about education and, like me, have felt the benefits of education. And this benefit of education is there now [figuring out] how we can support others to have the same experience.

What others need to know about NC State Education College:

It is an educational college that is truly committed to diversity and engagement with all students seeking education at the next level.

We are all a product of what we know. For us to fully understand something, we need to know about it. I think one of the most important roles of the College is outreach across North Carolina and beyond to help students understand what the College of Education is, what the goals and mission of the College are, and how the College can support them in their educational journey .

This journey starts from the beginning, but it is a continuous journey, so you see that so many people graduate at the same level but also come back.

The last thing that inspired me:

I get inspired all the time when I see people who have a dream and they work very hard for it and they get it to live. I hear people say, “This is what I want to do in life,” and I see how they live it, and I see how they live well. You can see how they make their dream come true. There is no better pleasure than knowing that you have a role in supporting a person in that he not only makes changes in the world, but also fulfills their inner desire to change the situation.

#WhyIChoseEducation: “We are all part of a wider community of people who want our world to be better tomorrow than it is today,” says Carl Harris’ 98EDD

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