Mr. Butler’s class—a day in the life

From throwing erasers to sudoku puzzles to stories, it’s everything Mr. Butler is known fo


I walk into classroom 76 and immediately the smell of coffee and mathematics assaults me. It’s the smell of Mr. Butler’s classroom. When I enter the room, I see Mr. Butler is sitting at his desk, and he’s wearing a red button down shirt; it’s Thursday. As I get to my seat and immediately take my notes out, all but one of my classmates do the same. The student, who I will refer to as Billy, was holding Mr. Butler’s piece of chalk up to the chalkboard, the wrong way. Mr. Butler ALWAYS writes with a single side of the chalk; he would never write with the opposing side, but Billy was currently drawing a smiley face, with the wrong side of the chalk. When he saw Mr. Butler on his way to the board to start the lesson, Billy quickly put the chalk down and hurried to his seat. Mr. Butler picks up the chalk. He puts it up to the board, and, as if in slow motion, he removes the chalk from the board and stares at it in disbelief and utter disgust. Then, he pivots in place and launches the chalk at the trashcan by the door. 

Once Mr. Butler retrieved a new piece of chalk, he turned to the board with a twist of his wrist and began filling our minds with imperative math knowledge. The numbers and words on his board were inconsequential compared to the lessons he was teaching us. Mr. Butler didn’t just teach math, he taught us the history behind it, how it was discovered, and—most importantly to us—which parts of the notes we would need to keep forever. When Mr. Butler told us we were taking Forever Notes, he meant we needed to keep them forever

The lesson today was fairly short, so after we completed it, we begged Mr. Butler to tell us his rabbit story. The story is infamous, and all of his old students brag about hearing the story. It’s a well known fact that Mr. Butler wouldn’t share that story with just any class, and it became apparent that he wouldn’t be sharing it with us today either. 

In place of the rabbit story, Mr. Butler told us how he had to fight to save his chalkboard. One day, long after school had ended, Mr. Butler happened to pop back into his classroom to retrieve an item he had forgotten. He walked into the classroom and found workers with a new whiteboard that they were about to place over the chalkboard. 

“What is that doing in my classroom?” Mr. Butler asked them. 

The workers defended themselves by saying, “We were just told to put this up in here.” 

Mr. Butler wanted no part of a whiteboard, so he strongly asserted, “You need to get that thing out of my classroom.” If he had not been there to stop the whiteboard from being put up, they would have covered up Mr. Butler’s chalkboard without telling him! 

Once the story was over, we got to work on our homework. The usual group of students in the back of the class were talking, but one of them put their hand up for a question. Without waiting to be called on, Steve asked, “If we don’t want to do parts A through F on this question, can we skip it?” Lucky for Mr. Butler, he was still sitting on his stool by the chalkboard. Without acknowledging the question, he reached for a yard stick and used it to slide the chalk eraser close enough to him to grab, and he launched it at Steve. Unfortunately, Steve was wearing a black hoodie, so the chalk was glaringly obvious. Everyone was appalled that Mr. Butler’s aim was true this time; it was a well known fact that his aim wasn’t always great, and anyone sitting near the target might become the target. 

Mr. Butler then made his way back to his desk to work on his sudoku puzzles, while we slaved away on our homework. However, instead of working on my homework, I became lost in thoughts of Mr. Butler’s math classes. Mr. Butler teaches four classes: advanced algebra, functions, stats and trig, and occasionally a pre-calculus class. People could end up taking Mr. Butler’s classes for two whole years, and Mr. Butler always offered five points of extra credit every week, if you wrote a paragraph that answered questions that he put on the board. I took the time to calculate how much extra credit you could get in that time, but, before I could finish, I heard the distinct sound of coffee being poured into a thermos. 

This sound might not seem distinct, but Mr. Butler always enjoyed pouring his coffee in a special way. He slowly poured from the pot into his slim thermos, and he enjoyed raising and lifting the pot while pouring out the rich caffeine. Then, every single time, the entire class would turn their heads and see him smiling at the cup knowingly.  He enjoyed knowing we had all paused our math to watch his coffee ritual. 

As the bell rang and I was packing up my books, I realized how much I was going to miss this classroom and the teacher that made it memorable. I’m not sure that I’m ready to give it up; the class is a constant in my high school life, and looking into the future, I’m sure I’ll never forget the memories I make in that classroom, and I’m POSITIVE that I will never ever forget that rabbit story.