By Denise DuBois
Janie Butler has been with Smiths Station schools for so long that parents who once attended Smiths Station Primary School and now have children attending West Smiths Station Elementary remember her face. Those who have grandchildren at the school remember her, too. It has been 25 years, after all.
“It was kind of neat for someone who had been in kindergarten and I remember them,” Butler said. “Then their parents remember me. Now their grandchildren are coming and they say, ‘Mrs. Butler, are you still here?’ A lot have said it made them feel better to see a familiar face. I’ve heard that so many times.”
After so many years, Butler decided to retire from West Smiths Station Elementary. She began her tenure in the library then moved to the office as the secretary and registrar. For years she has been helping parents, teachers and students navigate their first years at school.
“I loved the most just being able to help people. Up here we work as a team and do whatever it takes to make the day go smooth for teachers and children and parents. I just loved helping them,” Butler said.
In addition to her office duties, Butler enjoyed helping organize the DARE program, Red Ribbon Week and Too Good for Drugs program.
“My heart is Red Ribbon Week,” Butler said. She enjoyed helping the kids learn the importance of staying drug-free and plans to continue volunteering in Lee County schools with these programs when she can.
Working on the yearbook was her other joy. She was able to take photos of events and help assemble the book.
Now that she is retiring, Butler will get to enjoy her family more and spend some time riding her bike.
“I felt like it was time because my family needed me and it was time for a change. I get to keep my grandbabies,” she said excitedly. Butler has four grandchildren: Lily, 5; Luke, 3 months; Andrew, 2; and Caleb, 1 month.
In addition to spending more time with her family, Butler looks forward to working more with her church family. She has been a Sunday School teacher for at least 35 years. She currently teaches fourth through sixth graders. In December 2016, she received a Certificate in Biblical Teaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“That was so important to me because it helped me to learn more of God’s Word,” she said.
Looking back over her career with the school system, Butler hopes she’s remembered as someone who was always available to help.
“I just want to be known as that person who was always helpful and as someone who cared. I’ve made some awesome, lifelong friendships working here. I want God to get all the glory for my life,” she said.