December Top Notch Teacher: G-E-T’s Annie Hughes

Special education teacher Annie Hughes helps students of all abilities reach their goals
P December Tnt 2020

Galesville, Wis. (WKBT) – School is not an easy adventure for some students. There are children with a wide range of abilities and those students need an extra hand sometimes. One Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau special education teacher said she wants her students to know what they can accomplish, even during a pandemic.

This school year has a new combination.

“Usually I take my students to the grocery store and we cook together,” Annie Hughes said, a special education teacher at G-E-T High School. “We haven’t been able to do that.”

Hughes still teaches some of her students in their comfortable environment. The others are still figuring out the unfamiliar routine. They’re making the best with what they have.

“Special education virtually has definitely had its challenges, but it’s also given students a great opportunity to be independent,” Hughes said.

Her students need a little extra help to reach goals other students may take for granted.

“The way that they learn is based on their personality and their needs,” Hughes said.

She shows these students their strengths. Some need that person to reveal their true potential no matter what is obstacles they face. Hughes’ little brother inspired her decision to stand at the front of the classroom.

“He has disabilities and growing up I saw him go through special education and transition into adulthood,” Hughes said.

A transition far from simple but possible when these young adults believe it themselves.

“I hope my students take away confidence after high school,” she said.

She helps run a program called Jitter’s Coffee Shop.

“Some job skills that they learn are time management, running the cashier making food and selling it to customers,” Hughes said.

Perhaps 2020 has provided the ultimate lesson plan.

“…have my students be active members of the community,” Hughes said.

A goal attainable whether students are present here or through a lens. As we transition to the end of a year we’ve exhausted ourselves counting down. Hughes reveals 2020 provided much more than what it took away.

“I want them to feel good about themselves and not give up when a challenge is presented to them,” she said.

This is Hughes’ fourth year teaching at G-E-T.  She said her professors at UW-Eau Claire helped shape her into the educator she is today.