Every other Friday throughout the 2020-21 school year, Granite City Community Unit School District #9 will feature a teacher who is going above and beyond to better serve our students.
The second “Teacher Spotlight” features Granite City High School English Department Chair and coordinator for the evening academy Chris Hutchings. Mr. Hutchings is in his 17th year teaching at GCHS, and has taught summer school each year since 2004.
He is also a member of the Renaissance Committee at GCHS, and serves as the President of the Six Mile Regional Library Board of Trustees.
Get to know Mr. Hutchings…
Where is your Hometown?
I was born in Nashville, Ill., while my parents were visiting their hometown. My father was in the Air Force, so we moved all around the United States. I have lived in Blytheville, Ark.; Shreveport, La.; Abilene, Texas; and Orange, Calif.
What were you involved in while growing up?
I was part of my high school swim team, but most of my time was devoted to skateboarding.
What college (s) did you attend and what degree (s) did you receive?
After high school I spent four years in the Marine Corps. When my tour was completed, I attended SWIC where I received my associate’s degree. I then earned my English teaching degree from McKendree University. I recently completed my master's degree in education administration at SIUE.
Favorite Vacation Spot?
My favorite vacation location is Frasier, Colo. My family and I have been several times, and it never seems to get old. Each vacation leads us on another adventure. I love hiking and trail running, and Colorado offers an endless supply of trails.
Who would play you in a movie?
I would choose Dwayne Johnson. He is a very diverse actor that could capture my Marine swagger, while expressing my kind, vegetarian side. I have actually been compared to him in the past…https://granitehighworld.com/18217/ghw-humor/surviving-the-purge-with-gchs-teachers/.
I love my wife's veggie bowl with Yum-Yum sauce on the side. It is a rice bowl with sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and peppers. My family and I have been vegetarian for the last 20 years, so some may think this is an odd choice, but it is absolutely delicious. I will say though; my students were not a fan of the Brussel sprout smell in my classroom after lunch!
Asking an English teacher their favorite book just doesn't seem fair. I have had several books that have impacted my life though. I read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein my freshmen year, and this is the reason I wanted to join the Marine Corps. Animal Liberation is a book that I read after finishing my time in the Marine Corps, and is the basis for my vegetarian beliefs. I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy in one day before the birth of my son and it has influenced me as a father in several different ways. With all of that said, Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk is the book that I could read over and over again for the sheer joy of it.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love seeing students graduate. I meet so many different students throughout their high school career: in class, in clubs, or in evening academy. This is a wide variety of students. It is exciting to see former students give the summa cum laude speech; it is exciting to see that student that struggled reach the pinnacle; and it is exciting to see those students that hiked Pere Marquette with science club or played Magic: The Gathering with me in hobby club. I enjoy reflecting back on their journey to graduation day.
What have you learned about yourself as a teacher during remote learning?
I have learned that I can always learn more. Before the pandemic, I felt like I was a pretty intelligent teacher. I was up to date on classroom technology and I used it as a communication tool often. Once remote learning began, I realized I did not know as much as I had thought. I was barely able to scrape by at the end of last year. I then went into summer school overconfident, and I struggled to connect with students productively. Only at this point do I feel like I am finally at par with remote learning. I still have to regularly check with my students to make sure that I am not too hard or giving too much work. Luckily, my current students are great and helping me become better every day.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
Throughout high school I had a general idea that I would join the Marine Corps, but I had never thought about my plans after high school. After completing my Marine Corps contract, I returned to Illinois to use the Illinois Veteran's Grant. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do. Once I started school, I found success in reading and writing. As well, I was introduced to several other students that were planning to go into teaching. I was not the best high school student, but I was able to find my way. I felt like I could bring this into my own classroom and maybe help those kids that just didn't seem to like school. Since then, it has seemed like I was always meant to work in education.
I love working out. This can be hiking with my family, running with my dog, or working out in my basement. I enjoy pushing myself to see how far, fast or heavy I can go. I routinely change the dynamics of my workouts or runs, but it always comes back to keeping my body healthy and in shape.
Fun fact about you?
I absolutely love the Muppets. I have fond memories watching the television show when I was very, very young. I have seen every movie in the theater (even if I had to go by myself to watch "Muppet Treasure Island" while in the Marine Corps). I continue to watch them to this day, including the new series on Disney+ called "Muppets Now."
For more information on the Granite City School District #9, please visit our website at: www.gcsd9.net or follow on social media at @GCSD9.