Nicole Butler-Hooton

Oregon’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

Nicole teaches second grade at Irving Elementary School in Bethel School District where her teaching style goes beyond instruction — she’s building lasting relationships with students and families.

Nicole Bulter-Hooton

Teaching with Love

When new teachers go through training, they experience a curriculum crowded with subjects ranging from developmental psychology to technology in the classroom. But while they spend a great deal of time immersed in these and other vital topics, one very important aspect of teaching is sometimes overlooked in their training: How to make students feel loved in their classrooms.


Photo: Second grade teacher Nicole Butler-Hooton engaging students remotely.

Nicole’s Approach

Irving Elementary SchoolLuckily for second-grade students at Irving Elementary School, Nicole Butler-Hooton has made making her students feel loved and accepted a cornerstone of her teaching. As a member of the Siletz and Apache Tribes, Nicole has an almost instinctive appreciation of diversity and inclusion in the classroom. “I think in order to teach a child, you have to know the child, and I think that that comes with being consistent and loving and kind,” Nicole says about her teaching style. “I think understanding that each child has a unique circumstance, remembering that all students deserve respect and attention is key, and it’s up to us teachers to go the extra mile to be able to give that.”

Nicole will undoubtedly continue making the students who come through her classroom feel valued for who they are as individuals. “I hope that students will remember how much I loved them and the sense of belonging they felt when they would come into my room,” she said. We are fully confident that they will remember exactly that.

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