Andre Carter

Making a difference in children's lives

Andre Carter is making his mark on the football field, racking up national and conference accolades.

Andre CarterAs a linebacker for the Panthers , Andre holds several school records and is closing in on the LC career record for tackles. An All-American, he receives weekly and season honors.  His fumble recovery resulting in a touchdown was named the USA South Athletic Conference's Play of the Week for Oct. 30.

But ask the senior Early Childhood Education major from Villa Rica what is most important to him, and he won't say football. Instead, he will talk about his kids.

During his class's two-week opening school experience, he worked in fifth-grade teacher Christine Nobley's room at Whitesville Road Elementary School.

But when his two weeks were up, Andre didn't leave.

"He had started a relationship with 85 students who just really started to get to know him when his time with us was over," Nobley says. "He found a way to make a more lasting impact on the lives of those children, in whom he saw himself."

He continued volunteering and working with the students.

"I love the kids," he says. "They are easy to get along with, and they are so impressionable and honest. From the very first day in the classroom, I fell in love with them, and they fell in love with me."

Andre also was inspired by Nobley.

"She's amazing," he says. "The relationships she builds with these kids are incredible."

Nobley is just as impressed with him.

"Andre Carter is a man of integrity, honor and character," she says.  "He is kind, responsible, compassionate and humble. There just aren't enough positive adjectives I can use to describe him."

Andre says being an athlete gives him a way to relate to the students and build his own connections.

"People tend to look up to athletes, especially young males," he says. "I can go to a kid and say, 'C'mon now, let's get it right; let's get it together,' and most times, they'll listen to me. I can take what Mrs. Nobley has already taught them and add to that. The things I believe in and that were instilled in me from an early age have taken me a long way, and I want to share that with these kids."

Panther Football

That connection is evident at every Panther home football game.

"I get them tickets to the football games and they root for me," he says. "I have my own little fan section – they make signs and hold them up for me. They just make me smile. It's ridiculously crazy and I love them to death."

Nobley says the school has gone "Carter Crazy."

"Boys who had never behaved in school now sit perfectly in their seats, hoping for one of those coveted tickets," she says. "After the games, Andre comes over to our group in the corner of the field and makes the kids feel like they are on the red carpet. He thanks them for coming and supporting him, thanks them for behaving and earning the privilege to attend the game, accepts hugs, handshakes and high-fives, and poses for endless pictures." 

Andre strongly believes building relationships with students is imperative to reaching them in the classroom.

"I like to just sit down and talk to them, and listen to them. They hear me – they know that I'm human    and they talk to me like they're talking to their friends. Once they get that relationship with you, that's when you can teach them."

Many of the students at Whitesville Road don't have positive role models in their lives – especially male role models. And those are the children Andre wants to reach.

"These students just need somebody to love them," he says. "Before they need a teacher, they need somebody to love them."

Andre had originally planned to be a physical education teacher and coach, but that changed once he began his studies at LaGrange.

"I started to get into math and reading and knew I want to teach anything – third grade, fourth grade, reading, math, it doesn't matter," he says with a grin. "I just want to teach."

But Andre's first months at LaGrange weren't exactly smooth sailing.

"When I started here as a freshman, I wasn't ready for college," he says. "I thought I had it all. I was on the football team and everything was going my way – until I got in the classroom."

There, Andre struggled with his first-semester courses.

"I didn't know how to study; I didn't know how to manage my time," he says. "I didn't know how to put aside football and to know when to stop watching film and work on a paper."

That's when a life-altering moment happened.

"I went home for Christmas break and my mom asked about my grades. I knew they weren't going to be good, but I pulled them up (on the computer) to show her. And that's when she got serious.

"She told me, 'Look, you are going to go back your second semester and you're going to get your stuff together or you're not coming back home.' I don't really think she would put me out, but I knew she meant what she said."

Andre says he'll never forget his mother's words.

"I just remember looking in my mama's eyes and her telling me, 'Andre, you cannot come home. There's not much for you here. You'd get a job somewhere and you'd just be stuck here like everybody else. You can't do it. '"

That's when he realized it was not just about him.

"A lot of people are looking up to me and looking for me to do something special," he says. "I'm the first one in my family to go to college, and they are all looking for me to graduate. It's been like a stepping stone for my family – my sister is going to college this year."

Andre listened to his mom and returned to campus determined to make her proud. His grades improved semester by semester, and he became more involved with his studies. He says it's been an amazing journey, but it all goes back to his mother.

"She's always been a rock for me, keeping me grounded," he says. "I knew I couldn't let her down. It's a great accomplishment for me to see my mama smile and see how proud she is of me. It's worth a million bucks."

Nobley says the effect Andre has had on her students is immeasurable.

"To say Andre is a role model is completely insufficient in describing the depth of his impact on our boys," she says. "He is a hero – the embodiment of everything they can ever hope to be and to achieve.  It is my deepest prayer that each of my boys become half the man that Andre Carter is." 

Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.