Braxton Citizens' News, Schools

Butler named Elementary Math Teacher of the Year

By Shirley Shuman

At their annual conference, the WV Council of Teachers of Mathematics presents an award to an elementary teacher of the year for excellence in teaching mathematics. This year, Stacey Butler, fifth-grade teacher at Sutton Elementary earned that title. Butler explained that each year the council accepts nominations for the award. She noted that Linda Sears, Director of Teaching and Learning, initiated her nomination and that SES Principal Flora Cox worked with Butler’s students to add to it.

Sears explained her reasons for nominating Butler. “While the reasons I nominated Stacey Butler  for WV Council of Mathematics Teacher of the Year are many, a few specific reasons are as follows: the best practices she implements daily in her classroom, her consistently high state test scores in all areas, her culture of respect in the classroom, and, most importantly, the way in which she inspires her students and creates a love for learning in each of them,” she said.

Her students’ contribution to the nomination affected Butler greatly. This teacher attends the organization’s conference each year. This year, as she sat listening to the presenter’s reading the comments by the winner’s students, she was moved by them. Learning that the comments came from her own students definitely enhanced the honor of the award. 

One point that Butler made clear is that she feels honored to have been recognized. However, she emphasized, “Math education at Sutton Elementary is a team effort, and I truly believe that one reason I succeed as a math teacher results from that team effort. I believe that much credit also goes to the students because they exhibit a work ethic focused by their dedication to learning. Without their being open to learning,  I wouldn’t be as successful.”

With 13 years of experience in Braxton County, Butler has moved from Sutton to the middle school and back to Sutton. She currently teaches fifth grade but explained that SES allows the fourth and fifth grade teachers to alternate each year. In that way, each teacher has the same students for two successive years. This practice was initiated after research and after approval of the proposal by the county administration.

She is convinced that the practice has enhanced math education at her school. Butler believes in teacher to student learning and seeing that all students have access to math education including critical thinking, problem solving and engagement. The system apparently is working because over the years her students’ scores have been sound. She also stressed that she “really love[‘s] being able to help students do problem solving and to think critically, and to be that person in the room who facilitates that learning.”

Asked about any improvement she would like to see in the education of elementary students, she responded, “I believe that Sutton Elementary School has been able to put processes in place that have helped students without special funding or any sort of special reform. We are a high-poverty school but have high standards. We’ve been able to instill in students the idea that knowledge is power,” she noted.

Butler added, “When Mrs. Cox took over as principal of our school, Sutton Elementary ranked 263rd out of all in the state. Four years later, when new data came out, we were ranked 64th. That change took place in four years. We’ve been able to really focus on our students without outside programs with our math interventionist, our Title I intervention, Susan Schiefer—our Community in Schools coordinator,  and Mrs. Cox working together to promote math fluency. I believe if we could have more funding for more staff to promote even more interventions, then we would see even greater gain in student proficiency.”