Upon Her Retirement: A Farewell to Marcie Hutchinson


Rachel Bunning

Historian and Director of K-12 Initiatives, Marcie Hutchinson, retired this summer after seven years of service at ASU. Her journey at ASU reaches all the way back to the 80’s when she was a graduate history student under Professors Chris Smith and Stephen Batalden. She later joined professor Smith and Batalden as a colleague upon retiring as a public school history teacher after 31 years of teaching in Mesa, Ariz.

Hutchinson's passion for history can be contagious. Not only did she receive her Master’s degree from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, but both of her daughters received their Bachelor’s degrees in history from SHPRS as well.

“They were doomed,” Hutchinson said. “Two history majors as parents, they were doomed because the books were everywhere growing up.”

Her dedication and service to her students has also inspired her daughters to follow in her footsteps. One of them is pursuing a PhD to become a professor in history, and her other daughter is pursuing a Master’s degree to become a history teacher.

Beyond her care as a mother, Hutchinson is a prominent figure in the historical community. She is the project coordinator of Jazz from A to Z, a program designed to bring awareness to the role music plays in developing deep understanding of historical events to as many teachers and students as possible.

“I used to use music in my classroom all the time,” she said. “So with this program, what we did is we used jazz as a primary source to get teachers to use more primary sources in their teaching. We want, not only to teach content, we want to teach historical thinking.”

Hutchinson is also one of the founders of the Arizona Council for History Education where she now sits as the treasurer.

“We had no statewide history organization for history teachers, so we created one,” she said. “We are affiliated with the national council, and it is one of the great joys that I’ve been involved in. What we do is we bring together a community. We create a community of history scholars, K-12, but also ASU folks who are the presenters. It has been a labor of love, and I just get to work with the neatest people.”

Her understanding of teacher engagement within public schools has helped her to craft the National History Day, a day in which secondary education students are instructed in history teaching methods using community resources and in performance-based assessment.

“It’s not like the typical history class where someone opens up your head and dumps all the information.” Hutchinson said. “No, this is kids fully engaged.”

She has also worked with the Helios Education Foundation to help award the History Teaching Fellowship to teachers who pursue a Master’s degree in history. Hutchinson had worked as a public schools teacher while she was pursuing her own Master’s degree, and remembers how difficult it was. She has dedicated herself to aid other teachers across the state to resources and programs.

Each of the projects she has worked to create during her time at ASU will continue past her retirement, but she will remain active within the community to support teachers. She will remain the treasurer of the Arizona Council for History Education, and is considering running for the Mesa School Board of Education. Her dedication to education and helping others achieve educational goals at all ages is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

“Being retired doesn’t mean you just pull out,” Hutchinson said. “Teachers are my heros, they are an inspiration. They are people that work so hard for such little recognition. And that’s why I am incredibly proud that my daughters want to be teachers. It’s a noble profession.”