By Grace Bernstein
For the past 50 years, the Oak Hall community has been fortunate in the acquisition of many passionate and influential teachers. Kindergarten teacher Judi Hubert’s devotion to the school and her students, has made Oak Hall shine brighter throughout her tenure.
Although Oak Hall’s founding teachers have retired, a few faculty members have been teaching at Oak Hall longer than its current senior class students have been alive. In fact, Hubert taught some of the seniors Oak Hall considers “lifers” (students who have consistently attended Oak Hall since kindergarten).
Hubert was born in Kankakee, Ill., a small farming community on the outskirts of Chicago. She attended Illinois State University, earning a degree in elementary education. Becoming a teacher was always the professional occupation Hubert aspired to obtain. “I played school with my sister and cousins,” Hubert explained. “I was always the teacher,” she continued. At the beginning of her professional education journey, Hubert interned at a few different elementary schools for several grade levels and began student teaching for a semester. Hubert’s first out-of-college job was teaching fourth grade for one year in Illinois and was also the assistant director for an Early Child Learning Center in Ohio. After living in Ohio for 10 years she moved to Gainesville for her husband’s job as the “Voice of the Florida Gators”. Hubert started teaching kindergarten at Oak Hall’s Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), formerly known as Martha Manson Academy.
Hubert has worked at Oak Hall for 30 years. She is one of three teachers with the longest tenure; as Upper School math teacher Jim Margerum, and Middle School history teacher David Pickens share this accolade with her. Hubert’s devotion for teaching students stems from the students love for learning. Hubert hopes that her students “can follow their dreams [and] do not put a limit on [themselves],” she noted. Many students cherish Hubert’s class from their own early learning experience as an ECLC student. “Ms. Hubert is a kind, loving, teacher and I am happy she was my teacher,” said third grader Caitlin B. Lower School learning specialist Sue Hendricks, who has worked with Hubert for multiple years, appreciates the passion and hard work ethic Hubert brings to Oak Hall to ensure her students are successful. “[She] has a keen insight into how children enjoy learning through play,” Hendricks said. Hubert uses techniques like a giant dice for the children to practice their number facts, or “witch fingers” to help focus on reading.
Oak Hall has greatly changed from its original opening in 1970. “The biggest changes are the new buildings and the new entrance to the school,” Hubert said. Even though Oak Hall has greatly evolved after three decades, Hubert still welcomes the new generation into her classroom with a warm smile and an open heart. This beloved teacher has become one of the many great things Oak Hall has to offer its students. Watching her former students graduate into their new lives and reach new career paths is the ultimate reward. “That is the greatest joy when becoming a teacher,” Hubert warmly concluded.