BALLINGER — Ballinger ISD Superintendent Jeff Butts believes in preparing students for life and is continually striving to improve. He was hired earlier this year and sees the whole picture when it comes to their students in the school district.
“We are focused on academics and student goals,” Butts said. “If our kids are involved in a program, we want it to be the best program possible because that’s what the kids will benefit from.”
Butts shoulders the responsibility for the district and addressed the recent mediocre TEA score.
“The new standard of accountability came out and we received a grade of 77, a C,” Butts said. “I know it matters because TEA says that it does, but whether it is a C, B or an A, our attitude and focus are the same: to continue to improve. We are going to get better and I believe that we’re making progress. I expect our scores to keep rising as we evaluate what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis. We don’t get down on ourselves because of a C. I know what our teachers are doing and they’re dedicated people. I believe in the direction that we’re headed.”
In the modern era of social media, Butts sees the bigger picture in the lives of the students and strives to show that they are moving forward in spite of some of the negative comments seen on social media.
“We can improve but negative comments on social media don’t help,” Butts said. “They don’t help us improve. If you are concerned with something, come have a conversation with me, come help us to get better and not tear us down. Those negative comments can also affect the kids. I pay attention when someone comes up to have a conversation about ideas on how to get better.”
Butts has addressed issues with the various civic groups and stays focused on the goals of the school district.
“I tell people all of the time that we’re all in this thing together, students, teachers, parents, community and staff,” Butts said. “This is Ballinger Texas’ school district, this isn’t Jeff Butts’ school district. Our goal is to make school a positive experience for the students and to help them get better. This school has been here a long time and will be here a long time after I’m gone.”
The schools have several programs that Butts wants people to know about.
“What is easy to magnify is athletics because it is so public,” Butts said. “We have other programs that aren’t as visible and all of those programs are a focus. We have DECA, Theater Arts, Industrial Arts, band, FFA and more. Maybe I don’t do a good enough job of putting that out there to the public and maybe that is where some of the comments about me not caring about anything except athletics come from. I do care about all of our programs.”
The school has a new theater arts teacher, Jacob Scott and Butts says that he’s looking forward to seeing what Scott does with the new program.
“Jacob Scott is doing some really exciting things with the theater arts program,” Butts said. “He’s an incredible teacher and is motivated.”
One point Butts makes is the role of society in education.
“This is my 32nd year in this business and always believed that school is a reflection of society,” Butts said. “It is the school that can stand in the gap between what society is not providing our kids and what they need to know to be a success. Kids go through so much that we do need to get to know them when they’re young so we understand where they coming from. Our kids in Ballinger come from diverse backgrounds and the earlier our staff can learn about them, the better we can address their issues and provide them an education.”
Teaching students to study and face adversity is a key to providing a good education.
“We talk to our staff about the concept of overcoming adversity and I don’t know if we do a good enough job of teaching our kids how to grind through some of those tough classes,” Butts said.
The lessons don’t end at school, teaching the students how to study and meet challenges are subjects that Butts and his staff are addressing, “Things like speaking in public, interviewing for a job, those are life skills and those types of programs can teach a person at a young age how important they are.”
Meeting challenges is what drives Butts to pursue success at the Ballinger ISD, whether they’re in elementary, junior high or high school. He realizes the kids are the future and works to recognize them for the achievements and prepare them for life after school.
“We have great kids here,” Butts said. “They’re good kids and deserve the best education we can give them and they deserve to be acknowledged.”