BAHS's Steve Hutchings
Mr Hutchings is a math teacher at Belfast Area High School. He has been teaching for 33 years, the last 25 of them in Belfast, following a year in Deer Isle and seven in Lincolnville. He loves his job and speaks about it with enthusiasm. Born in Marblehead, Massachussetts, he grew up with a fascination of boats and the sea. Originally having gone to school to become a marine biologist, he later became a teacher of Math and Science. Mr Hutchings is a strong believer of giving back to his community and is active in and out of the classroom to make school a better place.
Mr Hutchings has many wide and varied interests. Never leaving his passion for the sea, he his wife ran a boat charter during the summers, touring the islands of Penobscot Bay until his boat sank last spring. He has tried his hand at lobstering but never made much money at it, so these days he and his wife just tend ten lobster traps on recreational licenses. He had an elvering (eel) license for a number of years, but elvering is done at night while the baby elvers are active, which conflicted with his teaching schedule. With today's price for elvers he wishes he'd kept his license, if only to work on weekends. He's hoping to get another one in the lottery when 600 new licenses will be given out across the state.
Aside from teaching, Mr Hutchings is also an art dealer. With no previous background, a friend got him hooked on wildlife art. He started off learning about art for duck hunting stamps and later branched into other types of prints. More recently he's been collecting old pictures of Belfast which he researches to learn the history behind the photo. Some of them turn out to have hidden value. He likes to pick up prints and etchings for a few bucks on eBay and enjoys the research. "You're never too old to learn new stuff," he says. "If something interests you, go do it."
Mr Hutchings is enthusiastic about the path that Belfast is planning to put in place of the railroad and extending around the harbor. “Its the the best thing that could possibly happen,” he says. “If you measure the amount of land that you can either walk, touch the water from, or see the water from, it's a huge amount, given the size of the town. I think its more than any other place on the east coast, outside of national parks, and that [preservation] is forever and that's the nice part. So I'm all for it.”
As a teacher Mr. Hutchings is well liked by his students, and its easy to see that he enjoys teaching. Enthusiastic while he speaks, he is forever advising his students about the many opportunities colleges offer, and where. In Mr. Hutchings' opinion, rural Maine kids are the best, yet worst kids to teach. He says he enjoys the work ethics of the rural teenager, but wishes that some of that enthusiasm was turned to school work. “How do you get any student to work hard to do well in school?.....Show them that there is a job out there! Literally take them to the job.” This gave him the idea to start a new elective course at the high school, which he hopes to team teach along with one of the guidance councilors. The course, if approved, would be named "Apprenticeship." He hopes to be able to take students on field trips to job sites once a month, where they will be able to experience the work for themselves.
Mr Hutchings was the architect of the movement for six towns to pull out of RSU20 and reorganize similar to the old SAD34. He coordinated the petition process and serves as the assistant committee chair. He quickly learned that the whole process demands more time and commitment than he previously thought. He attended two meetings a week all year, and met with the assistant commissioner of education to lay out a plan for the next two years. For many people the motivation to withdraw is based on expense, but while he anticipates saving the city money he is looking more toward improving education in the school system. It is a demanding process but he is committed to seeing it through.
When asked if he would choose a different career path if starting life again, Mr Hutchings said he would have become a plumber. “I've had a blast in life, but that was a door that no one showed me. And so as a teacher I try to show that door to people. There's always teaching, there's always 4 year colleges. You can be a lawyer a doctor, or what ever you want, but you know, there are other doors also.”