2017 Kansas
Master Teachers

John Butcher

Art Teacher
USD 229 Blue Valley

Melinda Eitel

Kindergarten Teacher
USD 305 Salina

Joan Hayden

Physical Education Teacher
USD 475 Geary County

Jennifer Hendrix

Physics Teacher
USD 443 Dodge City

Kimberly Hett

5th Grade Teacher
USD 385 Andover

Brandy Lane

6th Grade Teacher
USD 437 Auburn Washburn

Laura Schwinn

A/V Communications Teacher
USD 253 Emporia

Kansas Master Teacher Award


photo of John Butcher

John Butcher

2017 Kansas Master Teacher

Art Teacher
Blue Valley Northwest High School
USD 229 Blue Valley


“We need all sorts of people in this world and art helps make sense of everything going on around us,” states a student. “When I go into Mr. Butcher’s class, I become completely absorbed into what I am doing… I am doing art, not just for a grade, but for me.”

A former administrator of Butcher’s observes, “He has taught them to realize that they may not all have equal talents, but what they do have in common are ‘products’ that express their uniqueness and value as individuals.”

Butcher worked full-time through college, causing him to take eight years to finish his bachelor’s from Emporia State in 1981. In 1996, he earned his master’s from MidAmerica Nazarene University. He taught at Emporia High School from 1989 to 1994, and began at Blue Valley Northwest High School in 1994, where he still teaches today.

He is credited with starting the sculpture program in Blue Valley USD 229, co-developing the jewelry/metals program, and even helping coach the girls golf team. From art fundamentals class to photography and everything in between, he teaches specific content in a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere where students can feel secure in expressing themselves both creatively and personally.

A colleague writes, “He is someone who can challenge students and encourage them at the same time. He also shows as much interest in a student who illustrates little art talent as one who shows significant talent. He is a master at what he does.”

A constant theme heard from Butcher’s supporters is that he has touched so many lives. Former students often return to visit and thank Butcher for broadening their horizons through art. Parents, who were reluctant and fearful of adult children living in their basement after college, have become supporters of their children pursuing careers in art and design. Current students share stories of how they learned to believe in themselves and their abilities. Colleagues are infected by his positive spirit. And one child broken by bullying was made whole again through creating in Butcher’s classroom.

“It is no coincidence that John used to be a stockbroker,” writes a former student. “He understood the power of investments. John took the time to invest in each and every student.” That former student became a teacher because of Butcher and now teaches alongside him.

Another former student states, “If I could only be half the teacher Mr. Butcher is, my students would receive an excellent education.”