SNOW HILL – School system officials honored a local woman for nearly six decades of dedication to the education of Snow Hill children.
The Worcester County Board of Education last week recognized Barbara Butler for 58 years of service to local children. Butler created the Haven House program at Snow Hill Elementary.
“Mrs. Butler, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude,” said Jon Andes, school board member and former superintendent.
Matthew Record, principal at Snow Hill Elementary School, introduced Butler at last Tuesday’s board of education meeting. Record said she’d first worked as a teacher and administrator for the school system and after retirement, continued her efforts with an after-school program on Dighton Avenue. Andes said he still recalled meeting her in 1997 when he visited Dighton Avenue.
“I remember meeting this young lady who said this program’s going to be here, we’re going to get it done, we’re going to make a difference and you’re going to do what I tell you to do. And I said ‘Yes Ma’am,’” Andes said.
Eventually the volunteer-based program was moved to Snow Hill Elementary School, as the school had ample space and a partnership with the education institution would enable the program to seek grant funding. In 2004, the Haven House became the county’s first after-school program to receive a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.
“That really opened up an opportunity to increase enrollment,” Record said.
Andes said many of the students who graduated from Snow Hill High School had been impacted by Butler.
“We are so blessed and so fortunate to have Mrs. Butler in our community and doing everything she did, starting on Dighton Avenue and then moving to Snow Hill Elementary School, and making a phenomenal difference in the lives of our children,” he said. “Many students who walk across the stage from Snow Hill High School started at the Haven House program and it’s all because of her that they’re walking across that stage in two weeks.”
Record said the program played a huge role at Snow Hill Elementary.
“It has been a staple for all children but a point of pride for the African American community in Snow Hill,” he said.
Haven House provides young students with homework assistance academic enrichment and youth development. The program is operated with support from Oasis Ministries.
“It is truly a community and school working together,” Record said.
He credits Butler’s passion and dedication with making Haven House the influential program it is for local children.
“You can walk through the halls of Snow Hill High School or walk through the Snow Hill community and kids will tell you ‘I was a Haven House kid. Mrs. Butler made me who I am today,’” Record said. “There’s been a generational impact and we really have Mrs. Butler to thank.”