Hearing from Hutchinson

 The Blue and White had the pleasure of meeting with Apopka High School’s Career Specialist, Ms. Hutchinson. We discussed momentous memories in her life, aspects of her work life, and what she likes to do in her spare time.


I struggle with anxiety, so college was a rough adjustment for me. I ended up taking a couple of years off in the middle. It seemed rough at the time, but it definitely ended up the way it was supposed to. I went to school and didn’t love it, so I didn’t do well. Taking that time off allowed me to get into the school I wanted to get into and finish a lot stronger. That definitely changed the course [of my life.] I started at UCF—which is great. I’m not knocking UCF. It just wasn’t great for me—and then took a couple of years off and worked. Then I went to UF and graduated, which was my dream. It was a roundabout way to get there, but it all worked out in the end because I got to be here [at Apopka High School].

I was in the classroom for four years at Apopka, and I was always in CTE [Career and Technical Education Pathway]. I dealt with this position on the teacher side, and there hasn’t been a lot of continuity to it with a lot of new people. When I saw this position open, I believed I would be a good fit as far as knowing what’s needed on one side while still being able to interact with students and help more than just my students. [I want to] help new teachers, help kids further their careers after high school, and make an impact there.

I am a career specialist. So what that entails is that for all the OCC dual enrollment kids that go off campus during the day, I keep track of them, recruit for next year, go through the application processes, manage all of that, as well as doing the industry certification on campus. [My students] do photography, photoshop illustrator, [and more]. Sometimes teachers take on some of the actual testing, but I have to order the tests, buy the tests, keep track of who’s tested and if they passed, and enter it into Skyward.

The biggest challenge [as a career specialist at Apopka High] has actually nothing to do with anything at Apopka, it’s the limited number of space that’s available in the outside programs. [For example, one of the] most popular programs is Veterinary Technician. Kids can go off campus during the day and learn how to be veterinary assistants. Then, when they graduate, theoretically, they could go get a job. But adults do those programs, too, so those spaces get taken up. Kids that want to get in and learn those skills can’t. The biggest challenge I face is kids being interested, but not having the space and having to be like, “Sorry, you can’t go,” and that’s really sad.

[I like being a career specialist more than being in the classroom because] I think there’s just a good mix. I think everybody knows last year was tough as far as different things. This way I still get to interact with students and be on campus, but I have more variety in my day. It changes it up a little bit, but still allows me to have that student interaction.

I definitely miss the students [in my classroom]. If I was teaching this year, I would have had some students for the third or fourth year in a row, so I formed those relationships. They’ve all come and visited me and told me how mad they are, but I’m not there so it makes me feel bad every time. But yeah, definitely [I miss] the students. I’ve had some great students through the years.

Outside of work, I go to a lot of sports games: all the Gator home games. I’m super close with my family. I hang out with my niece and nephew (who are still in elementary and middle school), hang out with friends, and go to concerts. I love to go to concerts. Taylor Swift’s album just came out today; I’ve seen her a couple of times. Saw the Backstreet Boys over the summer. I like to go to concerts, that’s how I like to spend my time. It seems worth it to me for that experience.

The Blue and White asked Ms. Hutchinson about her experiences as a student.

For like three-quarters of first grade, I cried every day. Every day I would like to hold on to the walls and [my parents] would have to push me into the classroom. Then I was fine. I was fine when I went into the classroom. It’s just getting in the classroom. I went to a small school, so I became kind of famous for that. Every year teachers were like, “Oh you’re getting so much better,” but it was only that year. I don’t know what it was. If you think you don’t like school, you probably do. I was fine when I got in, but there was something about the anticipation. My family has always been super supportive. They still push me to go—I don’t know if I like that.

It took me a long time to learn this [life lesson], but you just have to imagine the worst-case scenario and realize it’s never going to be that bad. The worst thing that I think could happen has almost never happened. It’s probably a terrible way to look at it. It’s never the end of the world. There have been times when I thought my parents were going to be mad at me, I haven’t lived up to their expectations, but it’s never been that bad.