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Global Education

Meet Participate Learning’s Teachers of the Year: Alexander Butler

The 2024 Participate Learning Teacher of the Year awards recognize three teachers in the Participate Learning Network who have shown an exceptional commitment to their students and school community, and have exemplified Participate Learning’s mission of uniting our world through global learning.

This year, each awardee demonstrated commitment to teaching global perspectives in their classroom and their dedication to the Participate Learning mission by sharing examples of:

  • Connections: Connections with students, colleagues at school, their community, fellow members of the Participate Learning Network, and beyond.
  • Cultural Experiences: Cultural experiences they provide for students, their school, and community by sharing their own culture, recognizing all of the cultures represented in their classroom, and teaching about cultures from around the world. 
  • Leadership: Leadership roles they serve in on their grade level or team, within their school and district, in the Participate Learning Network, and in the community.
  • Learning: Professional development opportunities that advance their own learning, as well as the creative and innovative global and/or language learning experiences that they provide for their students.

These global educators have poured time, energy, and so much thoughtfulness into sharing how they embrace global and language learning in their classrooms, schools, and beyond. It is our honor to introduce our first Teacher of the Year winner, Alexander Butler!

A unique path to teaching

Mr. Butler, a third-term Ambassador Teacher from Great Britain, is a third grade teacher at A.B. Combs Magnet Elementary School in Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina. 

He joined the military at age 16, and through leadership roles during his service he realized his potential to impact the world. He eventually went to university to become a Physical Education teacher and received both his teaching degree followed by a master’s degree. 

Drawing from his own educational experiences, he is committed to ensuring that every student knows they can succeed and understands that their character is just as important as their academics. His journey exemplifies the impact of cultural exchange programs for teachers in the U.S.A., highlighting how international educators bring diverse perspectives and experiences to American classrooms.

Fostering local and global connections

Mr. Butler creates connections for not only his students, but his entire school community. This year, he took on a new leadership role as the Global Connections Coordinator. Thanks to his efforts, more than 100 students have made global connections and learned about cultures and traditions from around the world. Teachers at his school have connected with classrooms in countries such as England, Chile, the Philippines, and Guatemala.

Additionally, Mr. Butler’s class has established pen pals with Banister Primary School in England so they can learn more about his culture and background while practicing their writing skills in a variety of ways.

Throughout the school year, Mr. Butler has also facilitated local connections for his students. During National Construction Inclusion Week, he orchestrated a visit from Duke Energy and Chandler Concrete to inspire the next generation of female engineers. He also coordinated a class visit from a female chiropractor. Through these experiences, Mr. Butler was able to incorporate global issues, such as ensuring fairness for all and utilizing clean energy, into his teaching.

Meaningful cultural experiences

Mr. Butler worked tirelessly this year to honor and celebrate the different cultures and languages represented at his school and in his classroom. He and another teacher spearheaded an international festival to celebrate the 72 countries and 29 languages represented at the school.

At the festival, students and families created tri-fold boards to share about their countries. There was a student parade featuring flags and traditional clothing, and a talent show where both students and parents performed. Mr. Butler said seeing how proud and happy the children and their families were is a moment he will never forget. Events like these are a testament to the success of cultural exchange programs for teachers in the U.S.A., as they facilitate the sharing and appreciation of diverse cultural backgrounds within the school community.

He also provides cultural experiences in day-to-day classroom activities and lessons. He developed intercultural understanding through activities like a student-led Ramadan lesson, Black History Month read-alouds, and studying holidays around the world.

Serving through leadership

In addition to being the Global Connections Coordinator, Mr. Butler has taken on other leadership roles this year. He served as the new hire mentor for seven staff members, ensuring they were informed of upcoming school events, rules and procedures, as well as being available for questions or concerns they had.

Mr. Butler is a member of his school’s Lighthouse Team to promote student leadership and academic growth. He serves as a third grade team lead in Science and Social Studies so he can offer a global lens to these subject areas.

Mr. Butler stresses that it’s not just about his leadership in the classroom; rather, he encourages his students to take ownership of their learning. He encourages them to work together, celebrating success and helping each other grow.

A commitment to ongoing learning

One of the focal points of Mr. Butler’s classroom is a large world map. It represents not only where his students are from, but also what countries they have learned about during their learning. This provides an important reference point for many of their lessons and activities as they “travel” the world!

Mr. Butler is also committed to his own growth as a teacher and has completed professional development throughout the year, such as LETRS training, Participate Learning courses, and Leader in Me.

Mr. Butler is truly an outstanding educator who is deeply committed to his students, his colleagues, and uniting our world through global learning. He epitomizes the importance and value of international teaching exchange programs in the U.S.A. We are honored to recognize him with this prestigious award and to spotlight him as he continues to positively impact his community and the world!

Stay tuned as we announce more Teacher of the Year winners in the coming days! 

We would like to thank all our Ambassador Teachers, U.S. partner teachers, and school partners who submitted interest forms, nominations, and applications for this year’s awards. Thank you for educating the next generation of thoughtful and engaged citizens who will be ready to succeed and make a positive impact.
If you’d like to learn more about teaching in the U.S. with Participate Learning, see our requirements and application process.

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