01/29/13 — She's a soldier and a teacher

View Archive

She's a soldier and a teacher

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 29, 2013 1:46 PM

For Maxine Carr, there is no question of her loyalty.

To the Army National Guard.

To Wayne County Public Schools.

Both have employed her. And both have had to, at times, share her.

When she was hired as an exceptional children's teacher in 2003, district officials were aware of her military service.

The master sergeant with the 113th Sustainment Brigade, based in Greensboro, has 31 years in, 13 active duty. Part of her obligation is drill duty one weekend a month.

"Some people can make it very hard when you have to go away for drill," she said.

That did not prove to be the case in this military town, she said, crediting then-principal at Goldsboro High School, Patricia Burden, and Dr. Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resource services, with being particularly understanding.

Originally from Columbia, S.C., she had previously been stationed at Fort Bragg in 1980 and went on to teach in Cumberland County Schools. She moved to Wayne County in 2003, working at GHS for nine years.

Then came her orders. The unit was called up to Kuwait, to support the front lines as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I was deployed before, had been to Desert Storm for eight months," she said. "This was for a full year."

Such an extended tour can take its toll on anyone, and Ms. Carr -- who has two grown sons -- admits it was especially hard on her now-15-year-old daughter, Atleassia Carr, a freshman at Goldsboro High.

One saving grace was the promise of a job when the deployment ended.

In October, the unit returned to North Carolina.

With the start of the semester after the new year, she returned to the classroom, this time at Brogden Middle School.

"They put you where you're needed," Ms. Carr explained. "I miss my friends at Goldsboro High School. But I actually like my new assignment. I've never worked with middle school before."

As an exceptional children's teacher, she has a caseload, assisting an average of 35 students and monitoring their individual education plans, or IEPs.

She also returned to the district bearing gifts.

Prior to the holidays, she made a presentation at a school board meeting -- of a flag flown over Camp Arifjan in Kuwait during her tour of duty.

"We have an opportunity to fly a flag," she explained. "They actually give them out to people who have been most supportive to military personnel."

Initially, she wanted to pay tribute to family who had faithfully stepped in during her absence. But she also couldn't forget a few standouts in the school district.

"Patricia Burden hired me, I was still in uniform, and Mr. McCoy was always supportive," she said. "I thought that was a great way to honor them for the support they have shown me throughout my career."

A dual career path that she will continue to juggle, she says.

"Hopefully, my goal is to become a sergeant major," she said. "I just take it one year at a time. I'm in pretty good health. I enjoy doing what I do. God has been good to me.

"I went into the military when I came out of high school. I have been places I probably never would have been. I have friends all over the world. But I like Goldsboro."

Her loyalty to this community is admirable, especially considering she has no family ties here.

"Every year, I get a new group of kids and I want to see them graduate," she explains. "That's how I end up staying here."

She also has a desire to give back in other ways, she said.

"I have saved half of my money from my deployment, to start a program after school," she said. "A lot of children need help with their homework and stuff. They can't stay after school and they can't come back to school,

"I'm putting together something with my National Guard friends, to go out in the neighborhoods and tutor or help with homework. I have set aside half of my deployment for that."