Meet Lindsey (Hibma) Wyatt '04
Behavior Support Teacher at Wasilla High School
— special education & Spanish majors
Q. How did you choose Augustana?
A. I chose Augustana for many reasons: it wasn’t located too far from home, I received great scholarships, I liked the size and the feeling of community when I took my tour, and it came highly recommended by my older friends and teachers who were alumni.
Life at Augie
Q. Favorite class and why?
A. The first class that comes to mind as a favorite was J-Term Capstone of my senior year. It was called “Light in the Darkness” or something like that. It was about good and evil in the world; Dr. Looney, Dr. Schotten, and Dr. Harr were the instructors. Every class period challenged my thinking and made me look at the world through a new lens. Even though it was a lot of work, spending time with those talented professors was truly a treat.
Q. Favorite professor and why?
A. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every professor I had while at Augie. If I had to pick only one, I would say Dr. Joan Bacon from the special education department. She was my advisor, my mentor, and to this day, my friend. She helped me see my calling to work with people with special needs and even though she has since retired, she still checks in to see how I’m doing.
Q. Best Augie memory?
A. The shenanigans with all the girls on Solberg 3N our freshman year and my semester in Granada, Spain, rival each other for best memory.
Q. Tell us about your journey after graduating from Augustana – first job, grad school, travel, etc.
A. I had been student teaching at Children’s Home Society and I was offered a job as soon as my placement was over. I spent 2 years teaching there and then 2 years as a special education teacher at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls. I was getting a bit burned out and disillusioned with my inability to “save every child” and thought about leaving the education field all together. A family member in Alaska invited me to check out teaching in Alaska and I decided on a one-year adventure. Well, that was over 7 years ago, and I am still teaching in Wasilla, Alaska.
Q. Tell us about your career – what’s an average day like?
A. No two days are alike! I work with high school age students with a variety of mental health, substance abuse issues, and behavioral challenges. I tutor all academic subjects and teach social skills, anger management, and other independent living skills. My goal is for all my students to rise above their circumstances and do something with their lives, not just live as helpless victims who constantly blame others.
Q. Greatest challenges and best rewards of your current role?
A. Challenges: keeping up with the special education laws and paperwork requirements. Starting every day as a new day, with every student having a clean slate. Accepting that I am not going to “fix” every student. Rewards: Watching students I’ve worked with 4 and 5 years walk across the stage at graduation. Listening to my seniors mentor my freshman about their choices and regrets, instilling their wisdom of how they wish they had done things differently when they were younger.
Q. Greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
A. Almost every school year I am asked to mentor a new teacher or host a student teacher. I feel pretty accomplished when I am chosen over veteran teachers to be a leader in our school and in the district.
Q. What’s next for you professionally?
A. I’ve debated about obtaining a master’s degree in counseling, but I feel that being in the trenches, with the kids every day, is where I can be the most effective to promote change in their lives. I attend conferences and take classes to keep up with the newest trends, but see myself staying in the classroom for a long time to come.
Q. If you could offer a prospective or existing Augie student some advice, what would you say?
A. Don’t be afraid to try a new opportunity. Moving to Alaska scared me to death, but someone told me “you can do anything for a year” and they were right. I didn’t want to stay where I was comfortable and always wonder, “What would it have been like if I would have tried it?”
Q. Tell us about your family.
A. I’ve been married to a wonderful man, Reuben, since 2012. He works as a carpenter and can fix just about anything. Reuben and I are expecting our first child at the beginning of April. We embrace the wild Alaskan life and all it has to offer. We love salmon and halibut fishing, hunting (I helped us get a moose and a black bear last year!), hiking, camping, snow shoeing, skiing…anything to be outside in our beautiful state.
Q. What’s given you the greatest personal satisfaction since graduating from Augie? And why?
A. Coming on this adventure to Alaska all by myself and building a life where I am involved in my community and church and where I truly enjoy waking up in the morning and going to work.
Q. A foundation for life at Augustana begins with our five core values – Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. How did your time at Augustana help to ensure those values remain central in your life?
A. As with anything, we all have choice in what we let influence our lives, what we want to value, and how we choose to conduct ourselves. Fortunately, I was raised in a family that already gave me a foundation consisting of those core value, among others; perhaps this was another reason I was drawn to Augustana. My time at Augie just gave me more opportunities to grow in and practice those ideals so they were just a natural part of my everyday life. To me, the core value of Christian faith insures that the other four values just fall into place. My relationship with Jesus Christ spurs me on to conduct myself with excellence, to live among and love others and to serve them as He did.