Longtime Aiken County culinary arts teacher to retire after 52 years at North Augusta High

May 23—Rose Butler could always be found in the culinary arts kitchen inside North Augusta High School. Whether she was making biscuits and gravy, teaching table etiquette or providing the math skills for the baking class, her presence in the classroom and the halls of NAHS wasn't unnoticed by students.

"She teaches us the reality, life lessons and the actual class. We don't dread coming to this class. It's, 'Oh let's see what Ms. Butler is going to tell us about life today...'" senior Trinity Avery said. "It's something new everyday, and it's something to look forward to."

After more than 50 years in the classroom, Butler will retire at the end of the 2023 school year. She started teaching at NAHS in the fall of 1971.

Butler grew up outside Eastover and always had a desire to become teacher. She graduated from South Carolina State University at age 20 and immediately began her home economics teaching career in Aiken County.

She helped develop and sustain a culinary arts program where students can earn ServSafe restaurant and course completer certifications. Through partnerships with WifeSaver and other local culinary and industry professionals in an advisory committee, she is able to help provide education and job opportunities for students.

"I think that if everybody remembered that you want to be home wherever you are..." Butler said. "I think that we need to bring more of that into the classroom and the thing that I have always loved about North Augusta is that I feel as if I am in a big family."

"Ms. Butler has been awesome to work with. She is someone that you can tell really, really cares, and she is super passionate about giving back and helping these students become better chefs, better people," said Kurt Mueller of Ironhead BBQ who works with students in Butler's culinary classes. "That's the cool thing, she's not just focused on cooking. It's kind of the whole person so that is pretty neat."

Butler said she has enjoyed interacting with the youth and seeing technology change before her eyes.

"I will miss the fact that technology is moving so fast, and they are technology, they are the techies. I will miss the fact that they can think for themselves," Butler said. "This class produces thinkers, they do critical thinking and I will miss that. We are going into artificial intelligence. We have had that for a while but I know that they will embrace always being able to think."

"Ms. Butler is a very rare breed person," said Latonya Dandy, a former student and manager at WifeSaver. "She really cares about her students. She goes all out for them, and it's a great program that she has there... she sends us students and we hire them through her program and give them jobs and they go on and do other things because they get that learning experience to move on and do better things."

Butler plans to spend her retirement with her family and traveling, reading, gardening and even fishing when the opportunity provides itself.

"I won't miss teaching because I know that I have been a teacher and will always be a teacher. All of us are teachers so I won't really miss this part of it," she said. "I am just blessed to have been here and to be allowed to be here."

"Not only has she made a difference in the lives of the students she has served, but she has also been a mentor and role model for employees of NAHS and restaurateurs in our community," said North Augusta High principal John Murphy. "She has been an important advisor to her principals also. I cannot imagine NAHS without Ms. Butler. She is NAHS."

"I would like to think I've made a difference in the community. I pray I did, but I know they've made a difference in my life," Butler said.

Samantha Winn covers the cities of North Augusta and Augusta, with a focus on community oriented business and events. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews.