Saturday, 24 July 2021

Potter Valley educator receives Support Professional of the Year Award

Potter Valley education support professional Magdalene (Maggie) Peacock-Butler was named the California Teachers Association’s Paula J. Monroe CTA Education Support Professional of the Year. Courtesy photo.

NORTH COAST, Calif. – Magdalene (Maggie) Peacock-Butler, a speech-language pathology assistant and secretary-treasurer of the Potter Valley Education Support Professionals Association, was named this year’s Paula J. Monroe CTA Education Support Professional of the Year at the California Teachers Association State Council meeting in April.

The 2021 California Teachers of the Year were also honored at the meeting.

This recognition comes from her 19 years working at the Potter Valley Community Unified School District, activism in her union, and ongoing commitment to supporting Potter Valley students and their families.

Peacock-Butler was a full-inclusion aide before deciding five years ago to earn her speech-language pathology assistant degree.

“I am so honored and humbled to be named CTA’s ESP of the Year. Working in speech-language pathology is where I belong, and I am proud to be joining past recipients who have shown the same loyalty to their students. Receiving this award reminds me why being active in my union is so valuable, and why it is so important to advocate for people to make sure they know their rights. Together with my colleagues we make a difference in the lives of students. Our unity brings strength,” said Peacock-Butler.

“We are very proud of Maggie for this recognition from CTA, our parent union, but she certainly deserves it – and more. Nominating Maggie was an easy decision – her commitment and generosity to her peers, students, and their families goes above and beyond what one could imagine,” said Potter Valley Education Support Professionals AssociationA President Duval “Sam” Phillips.

In her years in the district, Peacock-Butler has helped some of the most struggling students to thrive and assisted her colleagues any way she could.

“I respect Maggie for her dedication to her career, and I admire her growth toward becoming a licensed speech-language pathologist. The impact Maggie has on her students and devotion to her union are unparalleled. Maggie’s ‘go-getter’ attitude is what encourages her colleagues to participate and inspires everyone to do their best. ESPs are committed to their students, and they are the backbone of our public schools,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd.

The real measure of her impact on students can be seen after school hours, when countless numbers of students, past and present, come by her office to visit.

Peacock-Butler’s compassionate approach and ability to make connections with students and their families has garnered the respect of the school community.

Phillips said Potter Valley parents and teachers speak of their children’s success in speech and can see the impact of her efforts.

“To give them the power to use their words is amazing! My students are so bright and have so much to share,” said Peacock-Butler.

Providing speech and language support during distance learning was exceptionally challenging, she said, and she is happy to have recently returned to in-person instruction in two cohorts. Peacock-Butler and her students wear special masks that keep their lips visible during their sessions, so students can better learn the tools they need.

“It’s a wonderful experience having them back on campus. We need that one-on-one contact,” she said. Peacock-Butler’s motto continues to be: “Once my student, always my student.”

Education support professionals, or ESPs, are at the front line of public education. It begins with that first school bus ride in the morning, and it ends when the custodian turns off the lights at night.

They make up one-third of the entire education workforce. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a school going for one day without paraprofessionals, office workers, coaches, bus drivers, food service workers, security personnel, custodians and maintenance staff, and other education support professionals.

They keep the grounds running, and they keep teachers afloat, especially during difficult and unprecedented times like COVID-19.

The award is named after retired ESP activist Paula J. Monroe from Redlands Unified, a former CTA and National Education Association ESP of the Year who campaigned successfully in 2006 to have 5,000 California ESP employees admitted to CTA as full members.

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