Butash ready to serve Mount after ‘senior year’ at CHS

Butash ready to serve Mount after ‘senior year’ at CHS

Cumberland High School Assistant Principal Jessie Butash is preparing for her new role as the Mount Saint Charles Academy’s junior high school, where she’ll serve as principal. This year marks Butash’s “senior year” at CHS, having worked in the district for four years. (Breeze Photo By Brittany Ballantyne)

CUMBERLAND - Jessie Butash can’t wait to return to middle school - the Mount St. Charles Academy’s junior high school, that is.

The current Cumberland High School assistant superintendent is preparing to bid farewell to the district she’s served for four years, and launch her new career as principal of the middle school section at Mount in Woonsocket.

Butash, a Burrillville native, calls the 2016-2017 academic year her “senior year,” and said the upcoming CHS Class of 2017 graduation will be bittersweet. Her mission has always been to help students by assisting teachers, she said, and now she plans to do the same at Mount.

“I feel as though it’s the way that I can give back,” she said.

Butash, who lives in Smithfield, said she has a passion for working at the middle school level, where students are transitioning through transformational years, and “learning to like who they are.”

In fact, the early days of her career in education stem back to middle school. Butash served Woonsocket Middle School as a social studies teacher before she was hired as a liaison between administration and teachers in the district after the Rhode Island Department of Education declared WMS had a “toxic school climate” in 2005.

After four years of her work as a “house leader,” working alongside two other liaisons, Butash said RIDE officials commended the school, stating the culture at WMS was one of “pride and focus.”

At Mount, Butash said, she plans to immerse herself in the community to learn about the middle school program and form relationships with students, faculty and parents, absorbing everything she can.

Butash currently oversees about 120 teachers in her CHS job, twice the entire faculty of 60 at Mount. She said she’s looking forward to meeting her new colleagues and continuing to work with Alan Tenreiro, CHS’ departing principal who will take over as president of the academy.

Butash had earned a master’s degree in school administration from Providence College in 2005, and said, “I had that for many years in my pocket, just kind of waiting.”

When the role at Cumberland High opened up for an assistant principal of teaching and learning, Butash called it her golden opportunity to start working as a school administrator. She began working at the school in 2013.

“It was like the skies opened up for me,” she said, calling the “teaching and learning” concept rare to most schools.

The job allowed her to help establish what a solid classroom environment looks like, support teachers through professional development and introduce the use of technology at the school after the district provided Google Chromebooks for teachers and each student.

Mount has also expressed interest in providing devices to students at the academy too, Butash explained. The assistant principal said she hopes to show Mount the initiatives other schools are working on, to see what can be incorporated in the school structure.

The system now in place at CHS, Butash said, is one that other districts are observing, visiting Cumberland to learn more about the programs the school is offering. It all comes down to the culture of CHS, she said, where teachers are supported, and support one another.

That translates directly to the success of children in the classroom, Butash said.

When she leaves the district, Butash said, she hopes the positive climate at CHS will remain.

“I don’t know that it’s the programs as much as it is about the continued progress,” she said of what she hopes will continue after her departure.

Butash advised the person who takes her role to understand that expertise already exists at CHS, and that faculty will need support to cultivate that further.

Soon, Butash will “graduate” with the Class of 2017 on June 12.

As for her final days working for the Cumberland School Department, Butash said her last day with the CHS team, June 20, will be an emotional one.

“I don’t know if this is a new book, or a new chapter,” she said of the move.