Laura Hibbard teaches as if her own three children were in her classroom, she wrote in a statement for her 2022 teacher of the year application.
"Laura’s classroom environment is one that encourages learning from mistakes, approaching problems in unique ways, and reminds each child they can be successful.”
— CARA DISKEN
Hibbard, a language arts teacher, began her teaching career at Buddy Taylor Middle School in October 2015 and has been the school's language arts department head for three school years, including the current one.
The daughter of a school teacher, Hibbard worked in the corporate world for a decade, most recently as a banker, before earning a teaching license.
"This background is the strongest driving force behind how I hold my students accountable, what curriculum I support, and the real-world application I insist upon," she wrote. " ... I believe teachers are always learning, and I’ve surely put that motto into practice."
Hibbard is a certified clinical educator with a master's in literacy, and holds teaching certifications the topics of reading, ESOL and gifted.
"When I think of the qualities that make someone worthy of the title of teacher of the year, the first person that comes to mind is Laura Hibbard," wrote Cara Disken, a former Buddy Taylor teacher and current assistant principal of Suwannee Middle School. "... It was apparent during our first meeting that she had a zeal and love for teaching middle schoolers and making their experience in her classroom one they will remember far beyond seventh and eighth grade."
"My three young children inspired me to become an educator when I witnessed the incredible influence their teachers had on them, ranging from daycare through grade school. I wanted to be a part of that."
— LAURA HIBBARD
One of the quotes posted in Hibbard's classroom, Disken wrote, states: "The future of the world is in my classroom today.”
"One core belief of Laura’s is that each child is more than a test score," Disken wrote. "This belief is evident in her classroom each day. She encourages her students to work toward mastery of each standard, but also connects her lessons to a student’s life beyond middle school. Laura wants her students to learn thinking skills that will help them no matter what path in life they choose."
And Hibbard's students also test well.
In 2018 and 2019, 68% of them increased their Florida Standards Assessments reading scores students increased their FSA Reading score; in 2019, two of them earned perfect FSA scores and 10 earned perfect writing scores.
"These scores may earn scholarships, but students still have to keep putting in the work when tests are over," Hibbard wrote. "All levels of achievement matter, whether they are ever measured by data."
Hibbard also helped create the Buddyworth Mentor Readers Program in 2018, placing advanced readers from her seventh and eighth grade classes in the role of reading mentors for kindergarteners at Wadsworth Elementary School.
Hubbard invites students to connect her lessons to their lives outside the classroom.
In a recent classroom discussion of Yeats' “Song of Wandering Aengus,” in which a man wandering in the woods uses a berry to catches a fish that transforms into a woman before running away, one of Hibbard's lower-tier readers discussed the science of fishing lures.
She noted that although the poem was relevant in academia for student success, the information the student was providing could put food on the table.
"I create relevance in my classroom, acknowledging there are many important lessons in their lives," Hibbard wrote.