Appreciation for the world around us

When Craig Butler completed his graduate degree in physics from the University of Virginia, he assumed he’d work in a research lab building lasers and analyzing quantum physics for the rest of his career. However, he soon realized interacting with only three or four people in a lab setting wasn’t how he wanted to spend his days. So, Dr. Butler jumped into teaching. Now he knows that his passions and gifts are best used at New Life Academy and is very fulfilled by his teaching career.  

Dr. Butler has been at New Life Academy for nearly 20 years, and currently teaches Upper School Chemistry and Physics. Dr. Butler is passionate about developing young minds so they can see beyond themselves and envision the bigger picture. “I hope students would love and appreciate the universe around us, and they wouldn’t take anything for granted in the physical world. I hope that connects to the spiritual world where they don’t take God for granted, and they see that God has a bigger picture for them: that they aren’t dependent on getting a good grade or earning money to be fulfilled,” Dr. Butler explains. 

Dr. Butler loves using humor to connect with his students and to help break down barriers in the classroom. This makes sense when you learn that Dr. Butler worked as a high diving clown at Valley Fair when he was a teenager. He would dive 70 feet into a pool of water, all the while doing flips and stunts. He also won America’s Funniest Home Videos in one of the earliest shows. Now laughter helps him understand who his students are and what gifts and talents they have. Often times he’s asked to write college recommendations for his students, and because he has most of his students for two years, he’s able to easily identify their strengths.  

One unique way he’s gotten to know his students over the years is through disc golf. Dr. Butler, in addition to several other teachers, created the disc golf course on the New Life campus about seven years ago. Initially a couple of disc golf baskets were installed for a PE class, but now the course has nine distinct holes and is used as a recreational place to play. The course has even been redesigned this year with the help of a professional disc golf athlete. Now, every Wednesday a disc golf club meets. “It’s a great time of bonding with students. I love it.” 

Disc golf at New Life Academy

Another thing Dr. Butler loves is the community at New Life. “It’s just such a wonderful place to work. The families, teachers, and administration work well together. I don’t know if that happens in very many work places.”  

We’re so grateful for the many ways Dr. Butler has taught and inspired students to love the world around them through science.