HOUSTON – All this week Houston Life and KPRC 2 are teaming up with our friends at Shell Federal Credit Unionq2 to honor amazing educators all over Houston.
Dr. Butiko teaches ESL at Hodges Bend Middle School in Fort Bend ISD. Typically, her students know zero English. Last year, Dr. Butiko was a FBISD Teacher of the Year finalist, so it only made sense to recognize the passion she puts into her job as a teacher.
“This is a blessing. But you know what? You know who makes me great? These people, these people,” said Dr. Butiko.
Able to speak three languages, Dr. Butiko said she understands what it means to learn another language.
Dr. Butiko moved to the United States thirteen years ago from Kenya. In Kenya, she had worked as a teacher. “That experience I had in Kenya built the background for my teaching here,” said Dr. Butiko.
While the middle school teacher had opportunities to do other things after moving to the United States, she knew she had to continue working as a teacher. “I chose to teach because of one reason…literacy,”
Dr. Butiko had to go through the teacher accreditation process all over again after moving from Kenya. Her experience as a child growing up in Kenya provided all the drive she needed.
“I went to school at a time when Kenya had just gotten independence. Kenya got independence in 1963, and most women were not educated. And at that time, most men moved from the villages to go to work in the cities. So, they would write letters to their wives back at home who can’t read. So, once in a while a woman will be like, ‘hey, come, I’ll give you a banana, read this for me.’ My pay was a banana,” said Dr. Butiko, laughing at the memory.
Ultimately, she said she felt sad that the women could not read the letters their husbands sent for themselves. “At that early age, I decided I want to be a teacher and not just teach science, chemistry, what? No. I wanted to teach people how to read and write. It makes me complete.”
The first thing Dr. Butiko teaches her students is how to ask to go to the restroom. “Because I had an accident one time in a class, and I would never want another child to go through that experience,” she said.
The next thing she teaches is how to ask for help. “I tell them, it’s okay not to know. It’s okay to ask for help,” she said.
Watch the video above to see how surprised Dr. Butiko was when we burst into her classroom to thank her for her hard work.