The Croton-Harmon school district is proud to announce that Jessica Butts, a health teacher at Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School, has received the NYSAHPERD Health Teacher of the Year Award. This award recognizes her excellence as a health educator not only this year, but throughout her 18-year career.
Ms. Butts came to Croton in 2006. As the only health teacher at PVC, she is responsible for crafting relevant curricula for all students in grades 5 through 8, a feat that showcases the organization, flexibility and compassion that she has become known for.
“Jessica is the most effective health educator that I have encountered in my twenty-five years in education,” said PVC principal Michael Plotkin in a letter recommending Ms. Butts for the award. “She has developed an outstanding curriculum that is relevant to our students’ needs and is an integral part of the overall social-emotional approach of PVC Middle School.”
When asked how she gets middle school students to engage in discussions on the difficult, sensitive topics included in the health curriculum, such as drug abuse, sexual wellness and violence prevention, Ms. Butts said: “I provide students the opportunity to navigate the content in authentic and meaningful ways. I strive to foster a classroom of respect, empathy, compassion and acceptance.”
Aside from teaching health classes, Ms. Butts chairs the school’s Wellness Committee and sits on several other committees, including the Croton Coalition of Drug Free Schools and the Croton-Harmon Culture of Respect Task Force. She is also part of the school’s RULER emotional intelligence program and the Student Advisory planning team.