Bunsen burners, beakers, and chain reactions. While these chemistry terms don’t define him, they certainly describe a few of the tools of Scott Lutterbie’s trade.
Now in his eleventh year at Hammond, Scott co-chairs the science department with Mike Rice and teaches chemistry and AP chemistry to upper school students with whom he has developed a rapport that helps bring the subject matter to life. A visit to his classroom will find students actively engaged and enthusiastic about their newest discovery. Labs conversations are frequently peppered with “Watch this, Mr. Lutterbie!”
For Scott, you might just say it was trial by fire–the heat of a South Carolina summer, to be exact. Hired before the start of school, his first assignment was taking the JV basketball team to overnight camp. The group bonded over basketball and the University of South Carolina’s National Championship win on the baseball diamond. According to Scott, “I really enjoyed interacting with the team and soon realized the student-teacher relationship at Hammond is a close one. It’s very special … and different from anything I’ve ever seen.”
In recalling his first days teaching at Hammond, he remembers an AP class and the amount of effort students gave him. “I made as many mistakes as they did, but they never gave up on me. And I never gave up on them.” The relationships he has made with students won’t soon be forgotten. “In an AP class you spend two hours a day with students. By the time they graduate, we will have spent the equivalent of three years together,” Scott notes.
In addition to the ah-ha moments he witnesses on a daily basis, among his favorite Hammond memories are the junior class trips to Costa Rica, overnight field studies, and trips to Gettysburg. One memory, however, stands out among the rest. As Scott tells it, “We were riding home from a JV basketball game one night on the eve of a test, and Cannon Smith (’14) quizzed me for an hour as we rode home. He made an A on that test. Two years later, when he received an offer to play football for Clemson, he came running down the hall to share the news and picked me up in his excitement.”
From time to time, former students return to visit and share their success as they pursue science degrees or look toward medical professions. This year, in particular, Scott has had the unique pleasure of having former student and recent Georgia graduate, Lou Runge (’16), assist him as a teaching fellow. “He just taught his first full chapter and did an exceptional job. It’s been neat to witness the ‘coming full circle’ of a student you taught who is now teaching alongside you.”
Scott’s new classroom in the Innovation Center is a far cry from Hammond’s previous science labs. “These classrooms are beyond anything high school teachers have experienced. They’re on par with college classrooms. We have the mobility to free flow. Even during the pandemic, we’ve had the capability to safely conduct experiments.”
Scott is now experiencing Hammond through the eyes of a parent as his oldest daughter, Amelia, is a Skyhawk in the Lower School, with plans for four-year-old Rachel to join her in the fall. “The lower school is the most magical educational place on earth. Since pre-kindergarten, we have had one remarkable teacher after another. It’s been really cool to see Hammond through a different vantage point. Just last week I went to pick up Amelia after school and she made it clear that she wasn’t ready to go home yet. There is no greater selling point than a child who doesn’t want to leave school.”
The magical educational experience that Hammond provides is due in no small part to faculty like Scott Lutterbie who are able to connect with students in unique and creative ways–a connection that extends long after graduation.