During a surprise Zoom call Montville Township High School Social Studies teacher Christopher Butchko learned he has been named the 2020-2021 Morris County Teacher of the Year. The Holocaust and Genocide Studies teacher is now in the running for the NJ Teacher of the Year award. (Photo: Sue Marinello) WATCH THE VIDEO
Montville Township High School teacher Christopher Butchko was named the 2020-2021 Morris County Teacher of the Year. The Governor's Educator of the Year Program promotes a positive school culture by acknowledging the hard work and dedication of outstanding teachers.
The New Jersey Department of Education County Teacher of the Year Awards were officially announced on August 26, 2020. Presented by Kimberly Dickstein, the 2019-2020 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, from Haddonfield Memorial High School, all twenty-one New Jersey County Teachers of the Year were congratulated virtually. During the program each County Teacher of the Year had a moment to speak.
Butchko, a teacher with 18 years of experience – 12 of them at MTHS -- thanked his fellow teachers and Montville Township Public Schools administrators. About his students he said, “Without them I could not have achieved the best teaching experience I could.” Butchko also thanked his mother, noting: “most importantly, for giving me the chance to start my teaching career.”
In his application for Morris County Teacher of the Year, Butchko wrote: “I teach because I care about the future of our society. I love giving my students the highest quality education and high school experience that I can.”
Butchko is an innovative Social Studies teacher who, with the help of his professors at Kean University, has created his own textbook for his MTHS Holocaust and Genocide Studies courses. Additionally, Butchko has taken more than 100 students to Holocaust-related sites in Europe including the Concentration Camps of Dachau, Terezin, Plaszow, Treblinka and Auschwitz.
“Even though school gets out in June,” Butchko wrote, “I never consider my class to be over until mid-July when we return home.”
A Class Advisor for the MTHS Classes of 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2023, Butchko has a strong passion for education.
“My priority is to create an environment of respect and rapport. I remind everyone that we are here to learn, myself included.”
While the official NJDOE announcement was not made until August 26, Butchko was greeted by many MTHS colleagues and Montville Township Public Schools administrators on a Zoom call held Wednesday, May 13 at 8:00 a.m. Thinking he was being interviewed regarding additional questions during the Morris County Teacher of the Year application process, he logged in to find Dr. Angelica L. Allen-McMillan, Interim Executive Morris County Superintendent, who surprised Butchko with the early and “unofficial” announcement.
Unbeknownst to Butchko, MTPS Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar had been “Zooming” on her phone from her car, which was parked outside of Butchko’s home. Once the announcement was made she surprised him with a poster and balloons in his front yard.
“This is an extraordinary achievement,” Rovtar said, noting that competition for the Morris County Teacher of the Year is quite competitive.
“Your selection is a tribute to the passion with which you approach your instruction. You continually go above and beyond and many, many students have benefitted from the knowledge they have taken away from your classes,” Rovtar said. “I am so very proud of you. Your selection represents not only a recognition of the master teacher qualities that you possess, but also an acknowledgement of the outstanding accomplishments of MTHS and the exceptional faculty and administration that we have.”
Montville Township High School teacher Christopher Butchko was named the 2020-2021 Morris County Teacher of the Year. Though the official announcement was not made until all twenty-one NJ County Teachers of the Year had been selected, the “unofficial” announcement was made via a Zoom call in May of 2020. Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar “Zoomed” from her car outside of Butchko’s home and greeted him in his front yard with a congratulatory sign and balloons. (Photo: David Gelber)
Though the Morris County Teacher of the Year was determined in May, the announcement is not made official until later in the year, to provide time for all twenty-one counties to make their selections.
Each year, the Teacher of the Year selection process begins with individual schools. There, peers are able to nominate exceptional educators. A countywide panel then reviews the application packets and selects the County Teacher of the Year for each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties. A panel of educators then selects the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year based on written applications, video submissions, and interviews with the top six finalists.
“I am always grateful when a personal accomplishment in the district causes the spotlight to shine on us in such a positive way,” Rovtar told the Montville Township Public Schools faculty and staff. “If anyone has the resume, skills and background to be selected as the New Jersey Teacher of the Year, it certainly is Chris.”
Butchko is currently in the competition for the NJ State Teacher of the Year.
The announcement for the NJ State Teacher of the Year is typically made during the New Jersey School Boards Association Conference in October. For 2020, that event will be held virtually.
As Montville Township Public Schools’ administrators and photographer cheered, Dr. Angelica L. Allen-McMillan, Interim Executive Morris County Superintendent, congratulated Montville Township High School Social Studies teacher Christopher Butchko during Zoom call. Butchko has been named the 2020-2021 Morris County Teacher of the Year. He is now in competition for the NJ State Teacher of the Year. WATCH THE VIDEO