For the Love of Science. And the Pursuit of Curiosity.
March 24, 2016
Stephanie Critchfield, ADDO Worldwide
Growing up in Virginia, Brian Butler was a self-described weather nerd, fascinated by its unpredictability and the science of it all. It’s that innate curiosity that motivated him to leave home at 17 years old to pursue Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. Then the military came knocking. They were looking for weather officers. It was the beginning of an illustrious career in education, and he didn’t even realize it.
Brian grew up in the naval town of Portsmouth, Virginia, which drove an appreciation within him for the military. Intrigued by using his love of weather to serve his country, he earned a commission, joining as an officer. After his training was complete, Brian was asked to teach weather to a group of young airmen. He was apprehensive at first— teaching was never on his radar. But he readied a curriculum to the best of his abilities nonetheless. To his surprise, he loved it. Brian went about enthusiastically preparing airmen about the science of weather until his service was up.
A love for teaching born inside of him, Brian decided to lay down roots in Macon, Georgia, near his final base of Warner Robins, and pursue his Masters of Arts in teaching from nearby Georgia College.
After just nine years of teaching, the last six at Rutland High School in Macon, Georgia, Brian became a Top 10 finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year.
From “Teacher” to “Teacher of the Year”
“It’s funny, I can reflect on my education back in Virginia and see all these outstanding teachers who guided me and very likely shaped me into the educator I am today,” recalled Brian. Perhaps more likely is the fact that Brian has never lost his curiosity. What he loved about science and weather as a child in Virginia is the same today— it requires constant exploration.
It’s that love of exploration that drives him in the classroom. “I get rattled when students come in and say they don’t like science,” said Brian. “Somewhere along the line, their creativity got shut off. Inside everyone is a curiosity for the way the world works around them.” What he enjoys most is making science fun again—getting his students to be active participants in his classroom.
Labs are a vital part of Brian’s curriculum. He believes that when it comes to science, the best way to spark curiosity is to roll your sleeves up. For him, there is nothing more exciting than seeing a student expect one outcome and discover another instead. “It forces them to ask questions and to get inquisitive. It’s what is so great about science,” said Brian.
When the call came that he was selected for Rutland High School Teacher of the Year, Brian was floored. He was still working among people he considered his mentors, and plenty of peers whom he deeply respected. Then came the recognition from Bibb County for Teacher of the Year. Another shock. For state recognition, Brian was asked to provide a letter of recommendation, either from a student or a parent. Brian chose a student, who wrote an eloquent letter on his behalf.
In the letter, former student Loland Foust said, “I thought teachers simply came to school, taught a lesson, and assigned some work. I could not have been more wrong, and all it took was one teacher who showed he really cared.