George Butler

George Butler, principal at North Lake Elementary School

This week’s Principal’s Corner features North Lake Elementary School Principal George Butler.

Q: How long have you worked in the field of education and what made you choose this field?

A: “I began my career in education in 1971. I was fortunate to start in the profession as both a principal and classroom teacher – grades 4, 5, and 6. This year, I am completing 48 years in public education and all in Franklin County.

“I was ‘called’ into the teaching profession, after considering a career in aerospace engineering. I was greatly influenced by fantastic teachers who influenced and impacted my young life. The influence of those exceptional teachers did not go unnoticed. I was greatly impressed by their teaching skills and a flair around the school building. Grade school teachers like Bruce Money, Kathleen Gattis and especially Gordon W. Sanders and high school teachers like Roger Jolley, Fred “Pete’ Holmes, Eleanor B. Murray and several others. Truthfully, they were among the best.

“What I remember about each: All showed compassion, wisdom, discipline and guidance. That was a long time ago and today those teachers are ‘Hall of Famers.’ Each is a significant part of the story of my life. Like them, and for the record, the one thing I hope to be remembered for is that I made a difference in the profession and in the lives of students. And, to quote Winston Churchill, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”

Q:  What do you like best about your position and what motivates you the most each day to go to your job?

A: “Being actively involved in the teaching profession is an important part of my life and brings much “joy in the journey” along the way. It’s critical that those of us working in the profession see the impact that we can have on our students.

“Educators have that obvious impact on students that when we demonstrate it, it picks every student up and lifts them up. How we impact students affects a lot of people.  I highly value positive and productive communication.

“Students need to know they have an advocate at school. In my principal’s position at North Lake Elementary School, I am afforded the unique opportunity to be a leading advocate or simply lend an ear.

“I like working with amazing students and speaking words of support and encouragement.  I value being a part of a student’s level of confidence that results in academic growth and successes in and out of school.

“Students have many challenges and issues. Words of support and encouragement spoken by the teacher, principal and other school employees will be long remembered more for the support and encouragement than the lessons that were taught in the classroom.

“As a result of my own school experiences and encouragements from my teachers, I learned to always be positive, encouraging and supportive in the moment of communication with my own students. It has a mystical, magical way of gaining respect and trust with an emphasis on ability and capability of each student. I cherish the moments with my students and making memories with them.

“I am motivated by fundamental truths that bring fulfillment: Life is worth living, care about other people, take care of yourself and keep a positive mental attitude.”

Q:  What is the most challenging thing about your job and what is the easiest?

A: “There are unlimited challenges and expectations in my job. The profession has gotten more challenging and more complex over the years, and the days have gotten longer. The challenges are more demanding, and it is consistently and critically important to keep improving.

“We are making strides; however, academic struggles, social and health needs continue to exist in today’s complex world.

“Educators touch lives. More than ever, it is imperative to be on the cutting edge of education; keep turning things over and don’t rest on your laurels. It is vital to accept the belief that just because something is working doesn’t mean it can’t work better.

“Also, today’s educators must grow and develop professionally. If you associate with people who are highly successful in the classroom and the school building, you contagiously build that up in yourself.”

Q: Give the community an update on what’s going on at your school and include past events as well as upcoming events.

A: “The school year began with families gathering at the school for the school’s ‘Back to School Tailgate’ event attended by many parents and students.

“As we proceeded through the year, the school prepared and planned for one of the most important recognitions in our free country. The Veterans Day program was attended by veterans who brought attention to the meaning of our rights and provided the school the opportunity to honor the courage and commitment of our veterans.

“Later in the year, STREAM and Book Fair Family Night was a special and valued event that emphasized the importance of learning to read and the importance of science, technology and related content in our school and community.

“One of the most popular and well-attended events of the year was the school’s ‘Father and Daughter Dance.’  This month, the school is hosting ‘Muffins with Mom,’ which promises to be a great success prior to the ending of the school year.

“Currently, North Lake School is preparing for the end-of-the-school-year awards program. The program provides the school the opportunity to recognize and honor the value and contributions of our students.

“Also, this month, graduation ceremonies will be held for students in Pre-K, kindergarten, and fifth grade.

“Still, even this summer, activities will continue for teachers who will be attending summer training in their content areas. This fall, students will return to an attractive and spirited redesigned cafeteria at North Lake School.”

Q:  What are some of the highpoints thus far this year at the school and what goals do you have for your school?

A: “A major goal of North Lake School continues to be an ongoing and historical goal: to make a difference.

“Each day, the employees diligently strive to achieve that goal and more. At North Lake School, we believe each child has a unique gift. It’s our goal, and it’s our job to find out what the child’s goal is, to make the world better.

“In addition, a major goal is to focus on strengthening academic deficiencies. Our goal continues to be cultivating a family environment. Each child’s family is our family also. We all strive to feel that connection. This is a quality many of our parents immediately recognize. It is a main priority to get to know the parents and to let them know we are here to help their children to succeed.

“Our goal is to be all the more committed and dedicated to paving a positive path for our students.

“Looking back, this year we have communicated the importance of the home and school connection.  In this effort, we have become more aware the connection is what helps students want to learn.

“At the beginning of the school year, our tailgate activity is a social event attended by parents, students and school employees. This event is an enthusiastic effort to make a connection with each student and the parents.

“As we proceed, there will always be more challenges ahead, and our goal is to arise to the task and achieve success.”

QWhat are you most proud of at your school? What would you like to see improved?

A: “I am most proud of the employees at North Lake School who consistently perform their jobs with wisdom and a heart of understanding.

“I am very proud of the students and their parents. Along with the school’s employees, I think of all the kids as very much the same, all of whom deserve the best.

“In my experience, I taught kids who could not afford a piece of gum and I taught kids who could not afford much more.

“To the employees at North Lake School, the kids are all the same: all kids. I am most proud of that standard of love and care and we are committed and dedicated to that necessary and worthy standard…never allowing it to slip. There is no doubt, each day and throughout the school year, the focus of North Lake School is to provide quality instruction and remain alert and responsive to the varying needs of our students.

“Without question, I am most proud of the school’s belief that if everybody is rowing in the same direction, and we follow the right procedures and expectations are being followed, everything should fall into place.

“Each school has its share of issues. At North Lake School, I would like to see greater responsibility and self-discipline and positive student engagement from any disengaged student within the school’s learning environment. For me, that’s a really good thing for any school’s improvement.”

Q: Tell our readers a little about your family and what you enjoy doing when you’re not at school.

A: “I am honored and humbled to have a loving, caring and supportive family. I have two fantastic grown children.

“What’s really cool is my daughter Lynde is a teacher at Broadview School and my son Rhett is employed as a counselor in Illinois.

“As any grandparent, I have a soft spot for my two grandchildren, and will soon welcome a third grandchild.

“My twin brother John served as principal at North Middle School prior to his retirement a few years ago.

“My sister Joyce, who resides in Atlanta, Georgia, worked several years in the medical field. Another sister, Evelyn, also worked in the medical profession prior to her death in 1992.

“Time away from school consists of several interests and a lifelong, fervent hobby in NASA’s spaceflight programs.

“I enjoy reading history and science books, especially about space explorations and discovery. Bookstores have an almost mythic hold on me. In addition to lots of reading, I enjoy quality time and trips to special places with family and friends.  A trip to the beach and to the mountains is always relaxing and refreshing.  A short distance off the beaten path, however, the flow of a small stream, and the solitude of the shifting, changing rivers and pine forests are always inspirational and captivating.

“On the weekends some free time is devoted to music. When I start to work early in the mornings, an important start of the day is listening to oldies, doo wop and country.”