Austin educator receives MU outstanding achievement award
James Butler, social and emotional learning mindfulness specialist for the Austin Independent School District, has received the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award from Manchester University.
The 2002 graduate of the northeast Indiana university is helping share mindfulness practices with 130 schools and 84,000 students in the district.
At Manchester, he learned to teach. And since graduating, he has taught in classrooms near and far — from Africa to Austin, Texas. Ultimately, Butler pursued his passion for early childhood education.
In Austin, Butler started with an ordinary classroom and achieved extraordinary things. He introduced mindful exercise to his prekindergarten students, and they began practicing mindfulness each morning. Mindfulness is described as the practice of maintaining a heightened awareness of one's thoughts, emotions or experiences in the moment.
These mindful exercises helped his students recognize stress and anxiety, and communicate their feelings. They learn how to calm themselves and believe in themselves.
This success led James to develop Mindful Classrooms, a program of hands-on, research-based training for teachers, principals and school districts.
In 2014, the Independent School District of Austin named James its Teacher of the Year. In 2015, he was named a Teacher of the Year semifinalist in a statewide recognition. He is now focusing his career on spreading the importance of mindfulness to others.
The awards and accolades do not matter to Butler. The children matter to him: the tattoos on his arms of his young students’ art work, the memories he has made, and the lessons he plans to pass on.
He lives the Manchester mission: “Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.”
The Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes alumni between the ages of 31 and 40 who demonstrate outstanding leadership in their careers, contribute to the betterment of their community and its citizens, and retain a strong alliance with the University.
Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,600 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training, a Master of Pharmacogenomics and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy.
If you know an outstanding Manchester University alumnus who is doing great things, nominate them at: