During Civic Education Day at the state capitol, South Lake High School teacher Web Hutchins received the state’s top honor for civic education. Hutchins was nominated for the award by State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle).
“Hutch’s teaching model exemplifies how innovative techniques and civic engagement can reach our students in new ways – even those who are struggling most,” said Rep. Pettigrew. “It’s why I nominated him, and it’s why the Civics Consortium selected him as this year’s Civic Educator of the Year.”
Each year, the Civic Educator of the Year is chosen by the Civics Consortium, which is made up of representatives from civics organizations and programs like the House/Senate Civics Programs, the Page School, Legislative Information Center, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, TVW, Secretary of State’s Office, the Administrative Office of the Courts, YMCA Youth & Government and Washington 4-H.
Hutchins has been teaching civics, social studies and language arts in Seattle public schools for nearly 25 years. He began his career at Nathan Hale High School, later moving on to Franklin High School.
He currently teaches at South Lake High School – an alternative re-entry school that primarily serves at-risk low-income students of color. Most of these students have had struggled with the traditional schooling model and/or the criminal justice system. He has used civics to engage the students in new ways – even winning a grant from the Seattle Education Foundation to bring them to Olympia this spring.
Hutchins’ work extends beyond the classroom, as well. He formed a fishing club at both Nathan Hale and Franklin High Schools. Hutchins reinforced the values of sportsmanship and environmental stewardship during his time fishing with his students.
Two years ago, Hutchins founded the “Civics for All Initiative”. It seeks to make Seattle a model civics education city where a “civic culture of learning” and democratic principles are intentionally cultivated district-wide in every school. The proposal, which is currently under consideration by the school district, calls for “civics across the K-12 curriculum,” substantial increases in civics and media literacy in each grade of the social studies, and district-wide voting in mock elections each November.
“Civics for All” is supported by countless Seattle civic, education, and business leaders – including legislators, school board members, faculty from the UW, SU, and Stanford, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, former Secretary of State Sam Reed, and numerous district social studies department chairs.
“I am honored to be selected as the Civic Educator of the Year,” said Hutchins. “The biggest gift in teaching civics is when you see kids take the lessons to heart and begin to think beyond themselves and start thinking about others and the common good. More than anything, this award gives me added energy to keep fighting to make sure that ALL kids in Seattle receive a great civics education.”