Last Carter Museum trip for Mr. Billingsley


Mr. Billingsley and his final freshmen class visiting the Jimmy Carter Center and Museum.

Chris Billingsley is a beloved teacher for all students and has been for many years now. This is his final year at the school and one of his most important trips for his students, aside from Close-Up, is a trip to the Jimmy Carter Center and Museum. He takes his 9th Grade Civics classes each year, not only to learn about an outstanding former president but to inspire them to do great things.

“This last year, I focused on the influence of Jimmy Carter’s high school teacher (and later principal) Julia Coleman. She always told her students that “Anyone of you could grow up to be president of the United States.” I remember seeing this twenty years ago but it never meant much to me until I decided that this year was my last” says Billingsley. The Center began to revolve its learning experience towards students throughout the years. He stated that “The museum is much more geared towards kids today. Lots of computers, T.V.s audio visuals, colors, huge multi media displays. Maybe too much information. It really takes several visits to take it all in.”

His trip to the Carter Center is very important to him, and this is why he takes his students on it each year. His first trip to the Carter Center and Museum was in the late 80’s. He used this museum as a educational experience for his students, but began to really bond with it through the Expeditionary Learning model started at the center. This whole program showed him that the museum could benefit students throughout the years ahead of working at Decatur. “This approach required that you develop long-lasting ties with an organization outside the school. Since I had already taken students to the Carter Center, and it fit into the 9th grade curriculum, it seemed like a natural fit” says Billingsley

The Carter Center has been around for a long time and with Mr. Billingsley’s many visits he has seen it change from new exhibits to renovations throughout the center. When Billingsley brought one class in the early 2000’s, they were presented with an extraordinary opportunity: “President Carter spoke to my students in 2001 right after the 9/11 attacks. More than 70 news organizations from around the world were present to record our Q&A session with President Carter.”

With Mr. Billingsley departing from Decatur High, students will have to wait and see if this great opportunity to visit the Jimmy Carter Center will continue in the future.