USD 480 Teacher Feature - Amy Butler

This week’s USD 480 Teacher Feature is Amy Butler, a kindergarten teacher at MacArthur Elementary. Originally from Liberal, Ms. Butler has chosen to continue to make Liberal her home to educate and inspire the next generation.

Ms. Butler has spent the entirety of her 31 year career in education, with 30 of those years at USD 480. In even a brief interaction with Ms. Butler two things definitely stand out: her knowledge and her humility. 

“Ms. Butler is a very ‘behind the scenes’ type of person.  She does not seek any accolades or recognition.  She goes about her job in her easy-going, laid-back, light-hearted manner,” said Jennifer Workman, MacArthur Principal. “She contributes to our school culture by providing a calm and steady presence which is no easy feat when you spend your day with Kindergarteners!”

After teaching for as long as she has, Ms. Butler has a wealth of knowledge and is quick to provide a helping hand to those around her. With five new teachers in her hallway this year, that is a tremendous asset to the MacArthur staff and students.

“She gives back to her profession by mentoring the new interim teachers in her hallway,” said Dr. Maureen Richard, Assistant Principal at MacArthur. “I know she is modeling her calm and patient demeanor so they can learn to just take it one step at a time and do their best, one day at a time. This is important for young educators to learn in this fast-paced, ever-changing world of teaching.”

Despite her long career, Ms. Butler is just as motivated to teach as she was at the beginning of her tenure and attributes that motivation to her students.

“My motivation to continue teaching is the ‘Ah, hah!’ moments from the students,” Butler said. “Seeing their expressions and actions when they finally get it makes all of the hard work worth it.”

Ms. Butler sits among her students as another student leads the class in counting from one to 100.

This year, Ms. Butler’s efforts in the classroom were recognized by parents and the community when they chose her to be the MacArthur Teacher of the Year. 

“I feel grateful and blessed to be recognized as Teacher of the Year for MacArthur,” Butler said. “I try to put my all into teaching every day. I want to be able to provide an environment that students feel safe and comfortable. In providing that environment, they will be able to focus on the learning aspect of school.”

[Picture of Teacher of the Year]

Ms. Butler (center right) poses with Assistant Superintendent, Lana Evans (center left); MacArthur Assistant Principal, Dr. Maureen Richard (left); and MacArthur Principal, Jennifer Workman (right), after being named MacArthur Teacher of the Year this past October.

Ms. Butler's classroom is very active, but her control of the room is evident within minutes of stopping by. With just a few words or claps the students all respond and move accordingly without hesitation.  Each minute the students are in the classroom is accounted for and after just a few weeks her group of kindergarteners operate like a well-oiled machine.

“Her number one priority is her students and she knows and understands kindergarteners very well,” Richard said. “There is a lot of growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, but it's easy to lose sight of the small steps. Amy's patience helps her celebrate the little things, knowing that it all adds up.”

She has taught kindergarten at MacArthur since the new school opened in 2017, but has also taught special education, ESL, and other lower level elementary classes from kindergarten to third grade.

Workman said. “She advocates for her students by asking what support or resources might help any of her students who are struggling,” Workman said.

Ms. Butler's co-worker, Erika Loesch, says she is always willing to learn more and try new things if it will help any of her students. She is open to new ideas and trying new strategies and that includes integrating technology into her instruction. She has found ways to incorporate the new interactive display boards into her teaching to help students learn in large groups.

Ms. Butler uses the interactive display to teach her students about the days of the week and the months of the year.

One of the things Ms. Butler is most known for is her constant communication with parents. This is vital at any level, but especially at the kindergarten level where growth can be seen almost daily. One of the parents that nominated Ms. Butler for MacArthur Teacher of the Year spoke, from experience, that Ms. Butler is very attentive and communicates well with parents throughout the year.

“She builds the foundation of academics; as well as, social-emotional learning necessary for each student to be successful in all of the years to come,” Workman said. “She advocates for her students by asking what support or resources might help if any of her students are struggling. Teaching kindergarten is a tough job, but Amy handles it all with grace, humility, and humor.  These are the traits that make her stand out at MacArthur.”

“I chose to go into teaching because I wanted to make a difference in a child's learning. It's a great feeling to know that you have helped a child achieve their learning goals,” Butler concluded.