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Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Butler

Mrs. Butler hard at work teaching her students chemistry concepts
Photo taken by Staci Kyle

Itzel Alvarado-Ovando, Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

(The Patriot Press) - Mrs. Butler has a name that feels like you could remember forever, and for many students of West Carteret, that will be the case. 

Before West Carteret

Mrs. Deborah Butler has been teaching for 28 years in total, spending 23 of those years here at West Carteret. She got her Bachelors in Science at NC State University and worked at the Duke University Medical Center for pediatrics where she fell in love with helping kids. Mrs. Butler would work at the cancer clinic and the NICU. On the job, there were times when she would have to train people and it was those times when she discovered she could become a good teacher. Mrs. Butler would go back to school at East Carolina University where she got her teaching certificate and Masters in Science Education. 

“Lifelong Profession”

At West Carteret, Mrs. Butler teaches chemistry at the standard, honors, and AP level. If you have been lucky enough to take her class on any level, you would agree that she was definitely meant to be a teacher. Even though chemistry may not have been your favorite subject, you must agree that what she taught held so much value. For Mrs. Butler, this is also the case. She has considered her advancement in her knowledge of chemistry to be one of her proudest accomplishments. “Teaching is a lifelong learning profession,” she says and it truly is. To have to master such a demanding subject is incredibly admirable and her experience has led her to find fulfillment in another aspect of teaching, being able to reach kids through her teaching who may not always “succeed.” Once upon a time when Mrs. Butler wasn’t just a chemistry teacher, she would teach other physical sciences apart from chemistry on a standard level. It was in these classes that she felt as though she could connect to her children. It's safe to say that she found comfort in children who tended to struggle and in her own words, she would “connect more to the troublemakers than those who weren’t.” 

Importance of Structure

In recent years, we have seen a teacher shortage in many schools. One of the many reasons for this may be the difficulty in engaging students and encouraging them to try harder or care more about their education - which understandably puts a lot of pressure on teachers, especially newer ones. There is no doubt that the knowledge Mrs. Butler holds is beyond what one may be able to comprehend, but she certainly knows how to control a classroom. When speaking on this matter, one of the main things she stressed was that “In order to be successful in the classroom, you have to have classroom management, before anything else.” She believes that students are engaged by constant change and movement, “Children want structure!” she says. Although children may not understand that, they could not function without it. It isn’t until they are left without structure that they realize that they need people like Mrs. Butler to keep order.

After West Carteret

After West Carteret, Mrs. Butler plans to retire, but that doesn’t mean that she will be done with teaching. She previously taught at the Carteret Community College for the GED program at night and intends to teach Chemistry there in the future.

There’s Love in Soup and Lemon Meringue Pie

There is no easy way to bring the topic of losing someone up, no easy way to deal with it, and most certainly, no guide that works for everyone, but for Mrs. Butler the love that has been shown from our school has been so much more than she could have ever imagined. There’s great strength in being able to show up day after day and add to the lives of dozens of children when in your own life, a great aspect has been taken away. The thing about Mrs. Butler is that she has been able to add so much to so many people’s lives that it's not surprising to hear the amount of admiration and care that has been shown to her in return. “I’m doing well” she stated, “This is a blessing, to know he doesn’t hurt anymore, he doesn’t have to take any more medication, he doesn’t have to struggle…I hate it for my girls but I’m doing okay.” and she is just so grateful of the students who brought soup and homemade lemon meringue pies, left notes and flowers at her house and the ones who might’ve not known what to say but showed up and showed compassion anyways are so deeply appreciated. In her own words, “West Carteret is a good place to teach, it’s got good kids.”

In the little amount of life that we have lived, it is hard to imagine a world in which we would have to endure an event such as the one she has had to. We don’t know much and we still have so much to learn but what we do know is that a teacher such as her is one that mustn't be left unappreciated. Her name is forever ingrained in the lives of so many of us and all these symbols in which she has been adorned are just pieces that show a love much deeper. We, the students of West Carteret, are here to support her and it's the least we could do after all the years of support she has given us. We thank her for everything, our hearts go out to her!

To Her Students,

“I am concerned about a lot of them when they go to college,” Mrs. Butler admits. This transition to college tends to be anomalous from what high school is and it worries Mrs. Butler. High School is about discipline and college can be a lot of freedom at once and she just hopes that when you’re without moms and dads and Mrs. Butlers, that you “do your best when you’re out there on your own…we're here rootin’ for you.”

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