Almost a month after receiving one of the biggest surprises of her life, Santa Clara school teacher Stacy Butler is still in shock.
“I don’t even know if it’s settled in yet. It’s still unreal that I got the award,” said Butler. “I love [teaching]. It’s what I do. I’m living my dream and I’m just fortunate to get that honor.”
On Nov. 29, the Pomeroy Elementary School third grade teacher was surprised at an afternoon assembly. She was greeted by the mascots from all of the Pac-12 schools and handed a check for $10,000.
“I had no clue. Even when they said my name, I was like, ‘Wait, why are you saying my name?’” said Butler.
The award is part of the Extra Yards for Teachers Program sponsored by the College Football Playoff. Every year, the Pac-12 selects 12 teachers to receive the honor, one in each school market. This year Butler was one of those teachers.
“I like to say it’s my Ellen moment,” said Danette Leighton, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Pac-12 and the daughter of a school teacher herself. “These teachers are just amazing in what they’re doing. Stacy was such a great representative because of her work in STEAM.”
In addition to a grant for her school, Butler and her entire class were invited to the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium. The students and their families got to go onto the field for an awards ceremony and, of course, watch the game.
“I’m not a huge sports fan, but just the whole atmosphere of the game was amazing. To give our whole class tickets and their families was so generous,” said Butler. “The Pac-12 mascots were dancing with my kids, chatting with them as much as they could, taking pictures, signing autographs. The kids are still talking about it.”
As for the $10,000, Butler says she hasn’t decided what to do with all of it yet, but she knows at least some of it will go towards completing the school’s Maker Space. She is one of the lead teachers on the project.
“We haven’t opened it yet, but our desire is to do it both after school and during the day,” said Butler. “During the day, we’re hoping for teachers to come in and do STEM and STEAM activities. I’ve also created these take and make bags so [teachers] can get all the supplies for different activities and take them back to the classroom.”
Butler likes to say she is a Santa Claran all the way. She is a product of the Santa Clara Unified School District and she met her husband at Santa Clara High School. For the past 22 years, she’s taught in the district and now her daughter teaches at another school in the district. Her son attends Mission College.
“The fact that I’m still here in this town is pretty cool,” said Butler. “I’ve never left Santa Clara. To be a product of it myself and now still in it…it’s neat.”