Welding instructor Jeff Owings inspired his protégé, Carter Woodall, to follow a similar career path

Carter Woodall and Jeff Owings go way back. Their families attended the same church in Chattooga County. Jeff says Carter’s grandfather was “one of my favorite people on earth.” And he was Carter’s welding instructor at Chattooga High School in Summerville, where he’s taught for more than 25 years.

Now Carter is following in his mentor’s footsteps, teaching high school in neighboring Floyd County and preparing his students for SkillsUSA competitions, just as Jeff once trained him.

“Carter was as perfect a student as any teacher could ask for,” says Jeff. “He was one of those who just did everything right. He’s a true success story.”

Carter furthered his skills at Jacksonville, Florida’s Tulsa Welding School, where he earned a scholarship after winning a welding competition there. After graduating, he traveled as a union pipe welder. Then his old friend told him about an opening for a welding instructor in Cherokee County Schools.

“I had wanted to be a teacher since I was in high school,” Carter recalls. “I would help underclassman, and I think that’s where [Jeff] got the idea I might be pretty good at it.”

Carter taught in Cherokee County for a year, then moved to his current position in 2018. And he still looks to Jeff as a mentor.

“Everything I do is what I’ve learned from him,” Carter says. “I lean on him quite a bit. We talk just about every day, usually in the morning. That’s kind of how I start my day – either he’ll call me or I’ll call him.”

Jeff points out, however, that it’s very much a two-way conversation. “I also lean on Carter,” he says. “He’s up on a lot more of the technology – he’s on top of the game there.”

With Carter teaching in Floyd County, the two are competing in the same region for spots in the SkillsUSA State Championships hosted by CEFGA.

“There’s nothing like building your own competition, I’ll tell ya,” Jeff says with a laugh. “But it’s very friendly. I pull for him when I don’t pull for my own students.”

Carter and Jeff clearly hold one another in high regard. Carter has the last word when he says his mentor is simply “the best. There’s no doubt about it. And not just in these competitions, but in life, teaching character and modeling it for people. He’s been there my whole life.”

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