USD 489 Hays
USD 305 Salina
USD 229 Blue Valley
USD 497 Lawrence
Instrumental Music Teacher
USD 385 Andover
Seventh Grade Math Teacher
USD 437 Auburn-Washburn
USD 443 Dodge City
Kansas Master Teacher Award
2016 Kansas Master Teacher
visit all 2016 winners
“Hello, class – my name is Mrs. Butte and you are in chemistry. People that like chemistry are crazy, so to teach it, you have to be downright psycho. Hopefully we can be crazy together,” — so Jessica Butte greets her students the first day of class.
Craziness ensues as Butte combines innovation with students’ interests, abilities, and learning styles. While any teacher can present subject material, Butte says, it is more important for students to discover it on their own, and it is her job to empower them to “make mistakes, take the wrong path, and productively struggle to form their own understanding.”
Butte began teaching in 2004 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State University in physical science. She began her career teaching physics at Hays High School, and has taught 9th grade science, chemistry, and ESL at the high school and middle school.
Butte “knows and demonstrates that the way she learned as a high school student is no longer an option for today’s students,” explains one colleague. “She welcomes questions from students about the history of the earth, the history of the universe, and climate change, all while reinforcing consensus, mainstream science.”
Whether it is supporting a ping pong ball at the top of a tower made of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, creating musical instruments to demonstrate sound waves, or creating model rollercoasters to measure kinetic and potential energy, her teaching style encourages exploration while maintaining a physically and emotionally safe place.
Throughout her tenure, she noticed the demographics in her classroom changing. In order to respond to these changes, Butte recognized the need to switch focus from what she was teaching to how she was teaching. This led her to an endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages, allowing her to assist her fellow teachers as well as her students.
Butte is not only involved in the classroom, but is also a sponsor of many activities and active in her community. She is the co-sponsor of National Honor Society, assistant coach for debate, GSA sponsor, and has been involved with Science Olympiad, scholars’ bowl, and forensics. On Wednesday nights you can find her at church, meeting with fourth graders to discuss morality and character.
As a lifelong acquaintance stated, “Jessica is genuine, what you see is what you get…. (she) is a team player who does not need a trophy or tiara, because her glory comes from a job well done.”