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Palm Coast Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 2 years ago

Teacher of the Year – Matanzas High School – Andrew Hutcheson

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Andrew Hutcheson has created innovative ways to intrigue his AP Physics students.
by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

Pirate Nation’s Teach of the Year nominee Andrew Hutcheson credits an engineer and a registered nurse — both previous students of his — for giving him the greatest compliments he’s received as an instructor.

The engineer thanked Hutcheson because he showed him how physics is interesting and useful. And the nurse also emailed Hutcheson to thank him for making her learn how to use the metric system. She's the only nurse in her hospital wing who can easily convert units and measure medications for hospital patients.

His current students also speak Hutcheson’s praise. Venturing into his classroom, you see colors, games, scientific models and nearly two-dozen brainstorming, hard-working students. Hutcheson has instructed them to team up and solve a problem. This is one method he uses to go away from the typical 60-minute lecture classroom.

“I gamify the classroom with a learning management system called Classcraft,” he said. “Students create and customize characters. The experience points help their characters level up in the game and students unlock abilities they can use in class.

I also differentiate the lesson, so it impacts students of various learning styles and interests. Sometimes we learn by reading

“It's so gratifying to hear someone say, ‘Oh. That’s why that happens. I always wondered about that!’”

ANDREW HUTCHESON, AP Physics teacher at Matanas

about the science, sometimes we learn by seeing the science in action, but most times we learn by doing the science ourselves.”

On getting the school’s nomination, Hutcheson said, “It is a great honor to be recognized by my peers, especially because there are many amazing teachers at MHS.”

Matanzas student Amanda Rushton deems Hutcheson as her favorite teacher of all time. She says his humor and innovation takes his classroom above average.

“He makes us relate the experiences to real problems,” Rushton said. “Vectors aren’t the most interesting topic, but he uses a rocket that launches things, so we can measure the magnitude and direction.”

Hutcheson realized he wanted to teach during his senior year in college. He wanted to help his fellow humans discover amazing moments for the first time.

“It's so gratifying to hear someone say, ‘Oh. That’s why that happens. I always wondered about that!’” he said.

Teaching, according to Hutcheson, allows him to leave the world in a better place than it was before he was born; he says it’s a wonderful gift. It also affords him to better students’ lives. Because of his dedication and strong desire to make learning interesting, Hutcheson has been brought to the forefront as a Teacher of the Year nominee.

Jeff Dawsey began his professional journalism career and his Observer employment in August of 2014. He is currently the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Sports Editor, and he also writes business for just Palm Coast. In 2014, he graduated from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville...

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