Teaching North Carolina History


Although I’m not lucky enough to have been born in North Carolina, I did spend my entire childhood (except for one lousy year in South Carolina) in the Tar Heel State. I have fond memories of taking North Carolina history in 4th and 8th grades, so I love looking at the shelves that contain our North Carolina history textbooks. I remember using the textbook pictured above in 8th grade.

Does anyone else have fond memories of these classes? Did anyone else have to memorize all 100 counties like I did? How about other projects for these classes? I still have my North Carolina scrapbook that I constructed in 4th grade—full of brochures from rest areas, place mats from Western Sizzlin’ restaurants (which had a map of the state on it), and my very own renditions of cardinals, dogwood blooms, and longleaf pines.

3 thoughts on “Teaching North Carolina History”

  1. My 8th grade history teacher turned out to be the sister of my next door neighbor. What a surprise! Ms. Sharpe, and boy was she. We had a text book but the thing I recall most about the class was that Ms. Sharpe taught us African American history from lecture and work sheets she created. Pretty heady stuff.
    And she took us on a field trip to see a local historic theater in downtown Elizabeth City before it was restored. There were incredible carved figures around the stage and the fading beauty of a showroom hidden among storage boxes and extra dry goods. We learned state things like flower, tree, bird (back then there were less state things to learn!) and even song. But I will spare you my rendition of the song.

  2. I tip my hat to Julia Heavner and Carolyn Ervin who team taught North Carolina history at East Lincoln Jr. High School in Iron Station, NC. They put us on a school bus and rode us around the county, pointing out sites of historic interest. Later, as the school year advanced and we marched through North Carolina’s past from the Lost Colony to Governor Aycock, they would remind us of our field trip and how those stops fit in with the overall story. (That took SOME talent.)

    There was a time when I could “singsong” all of the counties in alphabetical order, and I still have my North Carolina history project somewhere back home. And, yes, I still remember my answer to the required essay about which side I would have fought on at the Battle of Ramseur’s Mill. (I reasoned that my family would have been so far back in the woods, we would not have cared one way or the other and would have just wanted to be left alone.) My North Carolina history project stood me in good stead when I was working a reference desk and answered the “state this and that questions” over the years.

    I can still remember, Miss Heavner stating, “According to Mr. William S. Powell . . . ” and “According to Dr. Lefler . . . ” Imagine how I felt when as an undergraduate at Carolina, I asked my NC history teacher a question, and he answered, pointing to a well-dressed gentleman walking past us in the hall, “I don’t know, let’s ask Mr. Powell.” “Mr. William S. Powell???” I remember asking increduously, Ms. Heavner’s voice was still in my ear, intoning that name.

  3. Yay for 4th & 8th grade NC History! I wish remembered some great specifics like Kevin and Chris… I do remember having to memorize many of the official state symbols, and at least having to identify all of the surrounding counties (we were in Iredell). I wonder if any NC school systems WEREN’T using Mr. Powell’s books… seems like he reached us all!

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