“WE must work as though our daily contributions are what make or break our students' success.”
Elaine Hutchison wrote the above in her portfolio submission for the 2013 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year competition. She didn't just write the words, however. She lives them.
It's easy to see why a committee picked Hutchison as the state's top teacher, holding her up as a representative of Oklahoma's teaching corps and elevating her as a model for other educators. A nearly two-decade veteran of education, Hutchison teaches Algebra II, trigonometry, pre-calculus and advanced placement calculus at the high school and middle school in Fairview. She also teaches at an Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics regional center. Hutchison has attained National Board certification and serves as assistant girls' basketball coach.
Teachers like Hutchison understand that they often won't see the fruits of their labor for years, if ever. But each day, Hutchison and her peers have the chance to change a child's future.
The teacher of the year program honors the critical role educators play in our society and the daily lives of students. It's an opportunity to celebrate that role and to honor those who take seriously their responsibility and use their influence to elevate and empower students and support their colleagues. By all accounts, Hutchison is one of those teachers.
She has a teaching philosophy she calls HT to the sixth power: high tech, high touch, higher-level thinking, hands-on teaching, habitual thankfulness and heroic teachers.
“She challenges and builds confidence in each and every student in a very special way,” said Brian Hamar, principal of Fairview High School. “She hasn't even touched the surface yet because what she can do between now and until the time she retires is going to be phenomenal.”
Hutchison will spend the coming year as the state's ambassador of teaching. She'll be a fantastic representative of teaching at a time when public education faces difficult challenges and increased scrutiny, a time when it needs the voices of those entrenched in the day-to-day work of teaching who aren't afraid of the future. A fourth-generation teacher, she welcomes the opportunity that comes with change.
Hutchison and many other great teachers hone in on an oft-repeated but true thought: Professional educators teach students, not subjects. Part of what makes teachers like Hutchison so great is a keen understanding of how compassion and knowledge work together. “Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care,” she said.
To Hutchison, we extend our congratulations on a well-deserved honor. We wish her the best of luck as she competes for national Teacher of the Year honors.