Little teacher, big impact

See article published on TheCSPN: Little teacher, big impact

Little teacher, big impact | Substitute teacher leaves permanent mark on MHS 

Student teacher and long-term substitute Jamie Button, known for his outgoing personality and love of teaching, passed away on October 23 at the age of 26.

According to Honors World History teacher Ken Whitney, although Button was identified by his stature in the hallways, it was his big personality and passion for teaching that made him stand out in the classroom. Button, born with a form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia, brought a new aspect of diversity to Mason High School, which Whitney said helped him educate kids on subjects beyond the class curriculum.

“Caring about kids was his number one thing,” Whitney said. “I remember many times we would sit here at lunch, and we would talk about some of our students and some of the hardships that they faced…He knew, and with my encouragement I believe, that he had a gift…that man could teach.”

After graduating from Miami University, Button got the breakthrough in his teaching career at MHS, student teaching alongside Whitney and also substitute teaching. Recently he began a long term substitute position at Fairfield High School, although Mason struck a special connection with him.

“According to his father, he felt like he had his career, whether it be long term sub (or) subbing in our district on a regular basis,” Whitney said. “That was really important to him, and he felt like Mason was home…Most people know I’m very open and loving and caring, and for him (it helped) just being in that environment where he could thrive in my classroom…I work hard and play hard, and I think Mr. Button had that kind of personality too. So I think it was being very inviting where (when he first came), he didn’t know anything about Mason. And when he left here, like his father said at his funeral, he loved being in Mason.”

Button identified himself as a little person, a first impression–whether on paper or in person–that Whitney said naturally evoked curiosity. But according to Whitney, Button used his lighthearted nature to make students comfortable with him and his condition. Whitney said he remembered two particular anecdotes that especially helped Button open up to kids.

“He would talk about whenever he was at Kroger, and if he saw a canned good like on a top shelf that he needed, he would look to the left and look to the right down the aisle, and he would start climbing the shelf and with his basket and grab the canned good that he needed,” Whitney said. “(Or during) the holiday season…if he was ever in a store or a mall and just shopping and little kids were around, they’d stare at (him) because obviously you’d get some stares. And so he’d just kindly go over and whisper to them, ‘Hey kid, you better be good because I’m gonna tell Santa.’”

This sense of humor among other common interests helped Button and Whitney develop a close friendship over the years. Button will be missed by Whitney and many others, but according to Whitney, his time at Mason was a blessing.

“He lived life to the fullest,” Whitney said. “Don’t feel sorry for Jamie Button. Kids who first saw him might have made fun of him and stuff like that; don’t feel sorry for him. He never felt sorry for himself. He had a great, loving family…He’s just like you and I, no different. He had all the love in the world, and in the short time he was here, he had a great life. I’m sad, but I don’t feel sorry for him, and I hope nobody (does). He had a great life, and he impacted people, and I believe he really knew that…I hope for…anyone who knew Mr. Button, to not let his story
fade away.”

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