Three retiring Butler Junior High teachers will be missed
From left, Valerie Cawley, Gail Klinger and John Barr are retiring from Butler Junior High with a combined 93 years of teaching service at the Oak Brook school. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:24PM
The greatest testament of the positive work done by three retiring Butler Junior High teachers may be the former students who showed up Monday afternoon for a community celebration to honor them.
Art teacher Gail Klinger, with 33 years at Butler; language arts teacher Valerie Cawley, with 30 years; and science teacher/assistant principal John Baar, with 30 years, may have others fill their positions at the Oak Brook school, but no one will take their places.
“You don’t replace people like them,” District 53 Superintendent Sandra Martin said. “They are three very dedicated staff members who always put students first. They made a long-term commitment to the community.”
Lindsey Mackey and Anne Kelly, both 19-year-old college students who graduated from Butler in 2007, thought it important to be at the retirement celebration for Baar, Cawley and Klinger.
“Both of my brothers had Mr. Baar before I did; he’s like family,” Kelly said. “All three of them are just great teachers and great people. They always went the extra mile for their students.”
Mackey said all three retirees are wonderful examples of what teachers should be.
“Their passion is not only for what they teach, but also for their students,” she said.
For Baar, it made sense to care about his students as people.
“If you are a teacher, you want your students to be successful long term,” he said. “To do that, you need to help them develop into the kind of people who can do that, and that’s the entire person.”
Klinger said she always enjoyed teaching art to Butler students.
“I love exposing them to something that is part of our culture,” she said. “We’re a visual culture, so it’s very important for kids to have the exposure to art.”
Cawley started teaching at Butler in 1976. She took some time off on maternity leaves, but always returned.
“I never looked at going anywhere else,” she said. “The students and families here are just so wonderful. They’re centered in education and good people.”
Before coming to Butler, Cawley student taught at Hinsdale Central High School. The experience prompted her to seek out Butler for a teaching job.
“I had a great group of kids when I was a student teacher,” she said. “I asked, and that particular group was mostly from Butler. As soon as Butler had an opening, I applied because of the experience I had with those kids. And I knew right when I came that it was a fabulous school.”
All three said they will most miss the people at Butler, especially the children.
“I will miss the children,” Klinger said. “I’m a teacher; seeing them succeed is just a wonderful experience.”
Cawley, who said she will miss students, teachers and parents, said having former students return to Butler for visits always has touched her.
“It’s just wonderful when they come back and tell you about what they’re doing,” she said. “To see and hear about them after they leave here is wonderful.”