When students are going through hard times, teacher Lindsay Hudson-Hubbs wants to be a constant in their lives, supporting them to become successful.
“I’m more interested in the social-emotional learning of the whole child instead of just one subject … if you need to stop teaching math for five minutes to address a social issue, it’s going to benefit you in the long run,” she said.
Hudson-Hubbs was the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for the former G.W. Carver Academy. The honor was announced in the spring of 2020, during the school’s final year of operation. (Carver was the Indian River School District’s alternative school, serving K-12 students who needed more behavioral or social-emotional supports, but the district closed the Carver Center Program in June 2020 and instead established student supports to serve the students who remained when Carver was closed and to eliminate the need for a Carver-type program in the future.)
After teaching elementary-schoolers last year at Carver, Hudson-Hubbs has just finished her first year at the Georgetown Middle School’s Intensive Learning Center (ILC). After an educational equity lawsuit resulted in Carver closing, IRSD relies more on ILCs, so students are more likely to be temporarily moved to a different classroom instead of another school.
At the Carver Academy and now in the ILC, “The goal is to transition them back to a less restrictive setting,” back to their regular classes, but with the skills and supports to get through tough days, she said. “To see a successful transition is one of the best feelings.”
She said she loves working with her students and embraces the challenge: “Sometimes these kids have had someone give up on them. And I won’t,” said Hudson-Hubbs, who teaches core subjects to whoever is in her classroom.
But it’s been a tough year. Carver was already slated to close in mid-2020, but when the pandemic suddenly closed all buildings in March of 2020, the Carver staff lost the opportunity to say goodbye to their students, classrooms and colleagues in a meaningful way.
“It was really hard for me,” she acknowledged. “There was literally no closure.” The sudden switch to virtual education was also challenging. “Luckily, you’ve got to be flexible” to be an educator, she said. “That’s how we get through it.”
Like many educators, she’s had to set an example of perseverance, despite internal pain.
“I just foster a safe environment. You can be yourself. If you’re feeling weak, you can feel weak here. There’s still an expectation of respect” for each other, but it will be a safe place despite having a tough day.
“Sometimes kids need a smaller population with a very supportive staff to learn to be their best selves. And it’s everybody in the school … the custodians, the bus driver, the cafeteria worker — everybody in the school plays a part in the kids’ life” and in how that kid succeeds. In fact, “Community involvement is imperative in a student’s success … whether it’s the coach or the pastor or the Boys & Girls Club, whoever’s around them to lift them up — it’s definitely community based.”
Previously working as a behavior interventionist at a day treatment center, and then a teacher, Hudson-Hubbs has 14 years of experience with youth. Her colleagues called her classroom a “safe, supportive, positive learning environment” [where] the students take an active role in the learning process.”
While she doesn’t usually seek the spotlight, she said she was proud to represent G.W. Carver Academy, where “we were definitely a team. It was truly a work family. It was like problem-solving at its finest. Everybody would have different opinion, but we could still meet head-on to decide what best to do for a kid.”
Hudson-Hubbs is a mom of three children and graduate of Sussex Central High School. With the Rodel Teacher Council, “We laid the groundwork for the state to develop goals” around social-emotional learning expectations for schools across the state.