For more than three decades, Geoff Butcher has tried to give South Cariboo students the tools to success.
His work started as a physical education teacher at 100 Mile Junior in 1991 before he quickly rose in the ranks, becoming vice-principal at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary less than 10 years later. In 2014, he made the ultimate jump to principal, where he has remained for the past eight years.
Now, after 31 years – all of it in 100 Mile House – Butcher will retire from the education sector this fall.
“I’ve done everything except custodial and secretarial work,” Butcher, 59, said.
Teaching has been a part of Butcher’s life since the day he was born in Dinsmore, Sask. But although he came from a family of teachers and educators, he initially chose construction. After five years of building houses, though, I decided that “it was a lot of work and not pleasant work” and went to Simon Fraser University to get a Bachelor of Education degree.
He found himself in 100 Mile House.
“I applied to lots of places and this is the one I managed to fall on,” Butcher said. “Like lots of people who moved here, ‘we’ll be here for a couple of years’ and we just ended up staying. I liked the people I worked with, I liked the kids I was dealing with and I was never a big city guy so the lifestyle is what I liked.”
While he enjoyed his time in the classroom, Butcher always wanted to get a sense of how the school operated administratively.
“The two are similar in a lot of ways. As a classroom teacher, you have the student’s needs forever and as an administrator, you do too, you’re just looking at the bigger picture,” he said. “You’re still trying to find opportunities for the kids, support them in their learning in any way you can and be a positive influence in their lives.”
As principal, he said “you’re the go-to person” for the community, especially whenever an issue arises. His time is spent interacting with parents in the community, while at school, his time is mostly split between two groups: the gifted students on one end and the students who are struggling on the other.
He enjoys working with both groups, especially the latter. He said watching someone who has struggled go on to succeed is a great feeling.
The pandemic partly motivated his desire to retire, as it took a toll on him mentally. He will be succeeded by Caitlin Currie, whom he describes as “young and engaging” and has new ideas for the future.
“My job was to provide students with opportunities. That’s what PSO stands for, providing students opportunities, and that’s what I’ll remember more than anything.”
100 Mile House