Winner of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching
Elaine Hutchison, winner of the Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, is a 29-year teaching veteran who teaches courses in algebra, trigonometry and calculus as well as serving as the academic team coach at Fairview High School.
Hutchison aptly describes her teaching methodology as (HT)6: High Tech, High Touch, Higher-Level Thinking, Hands-On Techniques, Habitual Thankfulness and Heroic Teacher. By engaging her students in meaningful lessons through inquiry-based, cross-curricular learning, they become critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators.
Hutchison utilizes technology to help unlock student potential and hands-on projects to help students connect math concepts to real-world applications. Her students have used trigonometry to design roller coasters, complete with a Google site and video demonstrations. Through an innovation grant in 2019, Hutchison purchased two MakerBot 3-D printers and along with her students became a certified MakerBot Innovator. This year, her high school students are collaborating with third-grade students to design and create 3-D printed cookie cutters for a local bakery.
“Learning in my classroom is ‘messy,’” Hutchison said. “It requires students to do, refine, and create final products that take a substantial amount of time. However, my students will remember their Trig roller coaster projects, 3-D printed fractals, Bungee Barbie data collection labs and Exponential Growth Investment presentations so much more than any comprehensive test.”
While Hutchison may be legendary for her rigorous, advanced placement math courses, she has a special gift for supporting students who are struggling with math. Special education teacher Rinda Bowden recalls how Hutchison patiently encouraged and worked with a young man learning algebra. He eventually went on to earn an advanced score on the state Algebra 2 test. “Elaine is a master at meeting students where they are and motivating them, pushing them to be THEIR best.”
A National Board Certified teacher and former State Teacher of the Year, Hutchison has inspired many of her former students to pursue teaching careers. Mandy Mason, whose four daughters took math and played on the basketball team coached by Hutchison, said three of her four daughters are teachers and coaches, while the fourth is studying to become a school counselor. “Elaine demands a certain standard from her students, only because she gives the same to each of her students. There is no doubt that the study habits and work ethic that Elaine taught my daughters has led to their successes in life.”