Connecting tribal and non-tribal students with the history of their surroundings while also creating a sense of appreciation for the environment are only a few of the reasons for the 2022 Humboldt County teacher of the year naming.
The Humboldt County Office of Education announced Andrea Butler-Crosby as the 2022 Humboldt County teacher of the year. The fourth- and fifth-grade instructor at Orleans Elementary is one of seven county teachers recognized with the Excellence in Teaching award back in May.
“Being selected as the Humboldt County Teacher of the year is such an honor,” Butler-Crosby said in the HCOE’s announcement. “This award is more than I ever expected to receive in recognition for my work. I am honored and humbled by my selection, as I am fortunate to work with so many talented and resilient educators who dedicate their lives to inspiring our youth. ”
The HCOE announced the annual award’s recipient Thursday afternoon. The Excellence in Teaching Awards honors teachers working with students in grades from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade. Educators recognized with the award are considered exemplary by their co-workers, schools or community members.
Butler-Crosby’s work in the classroom has seen her engage her students with their local history and landscape. The students staged two plays narrating traditional stories from the Karuk Tribe. The plays were bilingual, with lines in both English and Karuk.
Her students have also had the opportunity to go on field trips and engage in stream restoration work through an environmental education partnership with the Karuk Tribe. The students even had the opportunity to rear salmon and trout in a fish tank in their classroom.
Karuk Tribe Education Committee member Lisa Morehead-Hillman has worked with Butler-Crosby and recognizes the educator’s efforts.
“Andrea demonstrated interest in and experience working with underrepresented and marginalized youth. She is dedicated to and has a deep connection to our Native American and non-Native people. Ms. Butler is one of our greatest role models and community treasures, ”she said.
“Being able to work with our local community, I have learned as much as I have taught, if not more,” Butler-Crosby said. “Collaboratively, we focus on developing a strong and positive sense of identity in our youth, welcoming and integrating traditional ecological knowledge into many areas of study.”
Having worked in Orleans for 22 years, Butler-Crosby feels fortunate to teach her second generation of students and treasures seeing her previous pupils see success close to home and far away.
“It’s given them a real world context for their learning and inspired them to learn from our local professionals. How do you make a living out here in the woods? I believe in creating memories for my students, and I provide as many opportunities as I can for my kids to experience hands-on projects, explore the natural world and participate in meaningful learning, ”the educator said in a presentation video.
As the recipient of the Humboldt County Teacher of the Year award, Butler-Crosby can be considered for the California State Teacher of the Year award, announced in October.