St. George’s teacher a winner in all the ways that count

By Mark Squibb/July 8, 2022

The biblical Book of Esther tells the story of a young Hebrew woman who becomes Queen and thwarts a plan to kill all the Jews living within Persia.

Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, challenges Esther to approach her husband the king to aid the Jewish people, claiming that perhaps she has come “to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

It’s a story that St. George’s Elementary teacher Christopher Butler is familiar with.

“Esther stepped into a role when it was needed,” said Butler. “She had the skills that were needed at that point and time in history.”

In reflecting on the role he played during the pandemic, Butler, who has a Masters in IT and nearly 30 years teaching experience, wonders if he himself were called “for such a time as this.”

“In times of desperation, people rise and have skills and are meant to be in that place at the right time,” said Butler. “And I had what was needed at that time… I had to be a calm in the storm. When we shut down in March, 2020, everybody was in the dark. My role was to get every teacher, and every student, and every parent, connected. So, I had to teach the teachers, the students, and the parents all of these different devices — Mac Books and Chrome books and tablets and desktops — and teach them blindly how to use all of this different technology to access the school. “

Butler uses a helpful analogy to show the immensity of the task.
“The analogy that I use is that you have 300 people learning how to drive, and you’re in a room separated from them, and first of all you have to make a connection, only through e-mail,” said Butler. “And then you have to teach these parents, students, teachers, how to drive a car — but they’re all different cars. So, there’s four of five different types of cars. That was my task. That’s what was given to me. So, I had to teach them to drive these cars. But, not only that — some of them are without cars. So, me and the principal had to go and acquire technology, and drive and deliver them to the homes.”

Butler worked as many as 18 hours a day in the very early days of the pandemic as the school switched from in-person classroom learning to virtual learning overnight.

“Chris had to reach out to 300 plus children and families through e-mail and get them connected to their Google Classroom,” said principal Paul Edwards. “This was totally new to parents as well, so he had to assist the parents as well… Chris had to reach out and connect all of those families to all the different sorts of technology, as well as to teach our teaches to connect with the children. It was an immense task.”

If a family was having problems with their device, Butler would often pick it up, bring it back to the school, work on it, and return it to the family, just to ensure all children had access to their virtual classes.

Butler would organize school wide pizza days and other virtual events to keep the school connected during the pandemic, and in addition, completed two Google Education training courses over the summer to stay up to date on the online platform.

“And he did that because he knew the skills he would receive from training he would be able to use to get our children where they need to be with their Google education platform,” said Edwards. “Not everyone would do that, but Chris Butler did.”

In part due to his masterful handling of the school’s switch to online learning during the pandemic, Butler was nominated by his colleagues for a Premier’s Award for Teaching Innovation.

At the close of the school year, Butler received word that he had been awarded the prestigious award. 

“I’m very honoured and humbled by this award,” said Butler. “You go through your career and you work. You don’t really think about recognition, you just do it … and then getting an award out of the blue is very shocking. I’m very appreciative that it happened.

Butler has been teaching for 27 years, 18 of those as a kindergarten teacher.

He’s been teaching at St. George’s since the early 2000’s, and acts as the school’s Learning Resources teacher.

“Teaching for me is something that I love,” said Butler. “I never, ever go to work. It’s like that old phrase, ‘Find a job that you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ This is something that I was born to do. I love it… It’s like I’m a parent to every one of these children.”

Edwards says that Butler is a staple at the school and in the community, and a man who makes each student and staff member feel important.

“You can’t mention St. George’s without recognizing Mr. B,” said Edwards. “Whatever is going on in this building, I have to say, 120 percent, Chris Butler is involved. If it’s flipping pancakes, or being at the computers, or building a set for a play. Even during the pandemic, he was the one here handing out the vaccination packages to the parents at the door or helping the children get in and get their belongings. Whatever is on the go, this is his school, and he’s committed 120 percent when he walks through the door every day, and he treats all 300 children with nothing but the utmost respect and love.”

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