Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce [R - 26th] sent a Certificate of “Commendations and Praise” from the State of New Jersey Senate and General Assembly to Montville Township High School teacher Christopher Butchko. Butchko was officially named Morris County Teacher of the Year by the New Jersey department of Education on August 26, 2020.
“Commendations and praise are extended to Christopher Butchko, by the citizenry of the 26th New Jersey Legislative District, through their elected representative, upon the occasion of being awarded Morris County Teacher of the Year by the New Jersey Department of Education on August 26, 2020,” the certificate stated.
As he presented the certificate, MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford, read the Assemblywoman’s words out loud to Butchko and his students during the final class of the day on Friday, September 25, 2020.
Montville Township Public Schools opened for the 2020-2021 academic year, both in-person and virtually, on September 8, 2020. During Sanford’s presentation to Butchko, both in-person and virtual students applauded and responded with congratulations. Virtual students also posted “congratulations” in the Chat.
“’I extend my praise and Best Wishes,’” Sanford read as he concluded the recitation of DeCroce’s certificate. “Signed ‘Betty Lou DeCroce, Assemblywoman.’”
The in-class presentation was a surprise. Neither Butchko nor his students expected the visit from: Principal Douglas Sanford, Assistant Principals David Gelber and Ken Nadzak, Supervisor of Humanities David Tubbs, and Superintendent of Montville Township Public Schools Dr. René Rovtar. All visitors remained socially distanced and everyone in the room wore facial coverings.
“Congratulations,” Sanford said as he elbow-bumped Butchko.
A teacher with 18 years of experience – 12 of them at MTHS – a surprised Butchko thanked those in attendance.
An innovative Social Studies teacher, Butchko has created his own textbook for his MTHS Holocaust and Genocide Studies courses. Additionally, he has taken more than 100 students to Holocaust-related sites in Europe including the Concentration Camps of Dachau, Terezin, Plaszow, Treblinka and Auschwitz. Additionally, MTHS Classes of 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2023 know him as their Class Advisor.
Each year, the Teacher of the Year selection process in the State of New Jersey 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.
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.