December 9, 2020
Jorde Hutton is quiet. As he tells stories, there is a sense of care and thought that goes into each answer. Hutton is a math teacher at Red River Area Learning Center and coach for the boys and girls tennis teams. His students would describe him as quiet and laid back. “To be honest, they would probably use the word chill,” Hutton laughs. His relaxed demeanor serves him well in the classroom and on the tennis court.
Hutton realized early in high school he would be a teacher. He grew up in Thief River Falls, a town of 9,000 people, 100 miles north of Moorhead. “My senior year, I took a calculus class,” he says. “It was the first time school pushed me. I had to invest time into learning.” The teacher structured the class in a way that made learning math enjoyable.
Growing up in an agricultural family, he spent long days in the field on the family farm. But farming wasn’t in his future as he realized a career choice that included being around more people was necessary for him. “Looking back at the teachers and coaches I had growing up and the impact they had on me, it was pretty easy to make the connection that teaching was something I wanted to do,” Hutton says.
His students in the classroom and on the tennis court are a constant source of inspiration. Hutton recalls a student who came to him at the beginning of the school year. The student feared they couldn't graduate, this fear stemming from math. “I try to make everything I do fun. If learning is fun, kids will want to do it more often,” he says. “Math is almost impossible to make fun, so if I can make a connection with the kids and they enjoy being in my room, we can get so much accomplished.” By the end of the year, that same student learned a great deal in math and graduated.
“People are often surprised to hear that I am musical,” Hutton says. While attending MSUM, he had a tough decision to make. Becoming a teacher was a no-brainer at this point, but what subject he would teach was dancing around in his head. He began pursuing a degree in music education, but later switched to math. “I knew there would be ways to sing and enjoy music outside of teaching, but there aren’t as many fun ways to do math outside of the classroom,” Hutton says. He further explains that there actually is a big correlation between singing and math: timing, rhythm, patterns and chord structures.
In his role as tennis coach for Moorhead High School, Hutton enjoys helping students find passion for the game and improve their skills. He has coached tennis since he was in high school. “People also say I don’t look like a tennis coach. I am not sure if I should take that as a compliment,” he jokes. This year, the tennis season looked very different, but the students had high spirits. “Having a tennis season is something that the girls worked hard for,” he says. “There are so many things not happening right now. Even though we are playing less tennis, students are building relationships with teammates and working towards a unified goal, and that hasn't changed.”
Hutton and his wife, Lauren, like to play board games, watch movies and spend time with friends. They have an adorable two-year-old golden retriever named Jules, who is named after a main character from their favorite show Psych. They are currently learning sign language which has proven to be both fun and difficult.
Jorde pictured with his wife Lauren and their dog Jules.
Hutton’s goal is to provide a sliver of joy to his students during a time that can be lacking hope. “Even if it’s a smile, an unexpected joke or coming back the next day and showing that you are still invested, over time you can see the difference it makes for our students,” he says. In his classroom, you won’t find him just teaching the basics of math, Hutton is connecting with students and creating safe spaces for students to talk and seek guidance beyond math.