There are many things that bring a teacher joy, but for Title 1 Kootenai Elementary teacher, Trish Butler, the most fulfilling for her is when a student has that “ah-ha” moment.
“When they finally put the pieces of the puzzle together so to speak, and shout, ‘I get it!’ That to me is the best feeling and gives me purpose and joy,” said Trish.
This is Trish’s first year teaching Title 1. For the prior three years, she taught first grade at Kootenai Elementary, and for 14 year prior to that she was a special education instructor at Farmin Stidwell Elementary.
Trish shares that working with special education students or those who find certain challenges when it comes to learning can be especially rewarding. She recalls an instance from a few years back that warms her heart.
“Most of us don’t and can’t understand what it’s like to have a learning disability,” said Trish, adding that when something cannot be explained to a young struggling student, it often gets in the way of that student being able to learn how to read. “A few years back, I had such a student. He was so intelligent! He was creative and talented in so many ways. We worked hard on reading for two or three years. I lost track of him over time but thought of him often. One day, I look down the hall and I see this tall kid—really a young man—walking toward me. It’s him! In his hands was a sculpture he welded of a student sitting and reading. He gave me that statue and thanked me for helping him with reading and told me he was off to college!” Trish said it made her so proud to know that she was a part of his puzzle. “I carry that with me in my heart and carry it forward as I work with other students.”
Trish said she feels her job as a teacher is not only to teach academics but to help raise good citizens who are contributing members of the community. With that being said, she adds that some of the most important lessons she wants to instill in her students are the simplest, yet the most difficult.
For example, she shares that she wants students to truly know how to listen to those around them and really “hear” what others are trying to say. In doing so, Trish believes a lot of problems can be avoided.
She strives to have students think beyond themselves and know that everyone has some sort of struggle in life, whether it be in academics or at home.
“It’s OK to give each other a helping hand. The underlying thread through all of that is perseverance. We all just can’t give up at the first sign of trouble,” said Trish. “We’ve got to stick with things—whether it be learning to read, learning a new sport or learning how to navigate an elementary-school friendship. Life is not always easy! Teaching or instilling that in students is hard. I want students to be able to fight through those hard spots without giving up. In doing so, they will be able to move mountains.”