History teacher likes to take students deeper into topic

HARLAN — The addition of a history class at Harlan County High School will give one history teacher the opportunity to share his knowledge with eager students.

History teacher Pat Pate began his teaching career at James A. Cawood High School, where he was a substitute, and later he was offered a job as a social studies instructor. He taught at Cawood from 1998 to 2008, then moved to the new high school.

Pate said his interest in history came from listening to his grandfather tell stories about the history of Harlan.

"The key thing was my grandfather was interested in history and that kind of just overflowed through him to me — just his enthusiasm about history," Pate said.

He said his grandfather "mainly talked about local stuff, but he had a great interest in all history."

So Pate has always had an interest in history.

"It's something that just came natural," he said. "I'd always sit and listen to my grandfather talk about different things, people and local historical things. I became interested in it from just listening to him."

Pate's history courses allow high school students to get college credit through Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. He also has been the county's bus coordinator since 2006 and has been driving a bus since 2001.

Pate said he hopes that his love of history inspires students to learn more about the subject.

"I've had several students come back and tell me later on that they enjoyed my classes," Pate said. "I've had some come back and tell me they weren't interested in history until they had my class. I might go to some outside sources; with it being college level, I go to different sources than I would for a high school class. You have to look at things differently. You have to look at it from their level."

Pate said he thinks students are interested in the college level courses because the classes can focus more in-depth than they can in regular high school history classes.

"With college-level classes, you can go a little more in-depth with it and look at it closer," Pate said. "With high school classes, you do cover it, but you don't go into it too much because of the other items you also have to cover."

He said one thing he pushes for the students to understand is the history around the Revolutionary War and what the Founding Fathers went through to get our governing system started.

He said students also seemed to be really interested in learning about World War II.

"I think the reason for that is because you still have veterans of that war they can still talk to," Pate said. "They might have family members and others that are right there for them. It's not like they have to go to a book or the Internet to read about it."