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When it comes to dedication on and off campus, Laura Hutton takes her expertise within the field of education to new levels. Hutton, an associate professor of teacher education and a program coordinator in the Education, Wellness, and Community Engagement division, creates teachable moments from her life experiences, providing a personal perspective.
In the classroom, Hutton advocates for an integrated learning approach through her facilitation of a holistic education for her students who are focusing on special education. She spends her time trying out instructional approaches, seeing what does and doesn’t work for her students in order to get the lessons to stick. Hutton, describing herself as an educator, believes she is “very student focused,” saying that her goal is “to do whatever [I] need to do to help them reach [my] high expectations.”
Although some lessons don’t work, the most successful educational tool she has found is her own home life. Hutton fosters children with special needs and has firsthand knowledge in terms of their schooling and daily interactions. She uses her children’s stories and shares them not only with her students, but also the publication Fostering Families Today and the Harford County community.
Like many of the College’s faculty, Hutton takes her skills and stories off campus. Most importantly, she was selected to teach her “Introduction to Special Education” course at the Maryland Freestate Challenge Academy at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The Academy provides educational opportunities to high school dropouts and young adults who face challenges such as homelessness or family issues. This is where Hutton has met many students who are passionate about learning and eager to be given a second chance, especially due to her acknowledgement of their successes.
She has also been used as a subject matter expert at Harford County Public Libraries, both for providing parents of special needs children with a resource guide and for selecting children’s books geared for the special needs population. She focuses on books that allow children in any minority to “understand their power.” Main characters that are relatable to a reader of a similar race or even with a disability will help a child with similar traits and say, “They’re just like me.”
For Hutton, she hopes her classroom will inspire students even if they are hesitant about the special needs population. She acknowledges that even she had preconceptions when she first took a special needs class, but by the end of her first class and now at the end of semesters at HCC, she finds students considering that they “might be able to do this.”
Hutton encourages all of her students to find the best in anyone and to celebrate the diversity of all children – and for that, Harford Community College is lucky to have an educator like her.
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