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Announcements and Press Releases

Middle School Teacher Kyair Butts Named City Schools’ 2019 Teacher of the Year

(Baltimore, MD) — Middle school English language arts teacher Kyair Butts of Waverly Elementary/Middle School is City Schools’ 2019 Teacher of the Year. District CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises presented the award this morning during a surprise visit to Mr. Butts’ classroom.

“Kyair Butts’ passionate commitment to student achievement and equity in education, to empowering his students to believe in their right to make their voices heard, and to helping them develop the necessary skills to share their voices is evident in everything he does,” said Dr. Santelises. “He is the sort of inspirational teacher who motivates deep learning in his students and changes children’s lives. I am proud to have him as part of our team.”

In addition to his classroom success, Mr. Butts works with the Urban Teachers program as a lead facilitator for the Race & Equity professional learning community, training teachers across Urban Teachers’ national sites. He has been recognized as Coach of the Year by the Baltimore Urban Debate League and as Most Valuable Urban Teacher and Most Valuable Participant in Community & Family Engagement by the Urban Teachers program. He has facilitated professional development sessions on using the strategies of debate in the classroom and implemented debate strategies that are practiced throughout his school. At Waverly, students on the debate team have seen significant improvement in literacy achievement.

“Kyair is a dynamic teacher,” said Principal Tanya Green. “He embodies what every child deserves in a teacher and male role model. He is knowledgeable about his content, and he teaches it in a way that connects with students and fosters a love of reading in them. He is personable and funny – and he isn’t afraid to be his authentic self with his students. He genuinely cares for his students, and they feel it.”

Mr. Butts has taught at Waverly since 2018 and taught previously at Calverton Elementary/Middle School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and journalism from Drake University and a master’s degree in elementary and special education from Lesley University.

City Schools selects the Teacher of the Year through a rigorous, competitive process that involves extensive review of applications, essays, and recommendations; interviews; and classroom observations. The CEO conducts a personal interview with each finalist.

As City Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Mr. Butts will receive a cash award and classroom supplies provided through the Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke Endowment Fund at the Fund for Educational Excellence. He will also throw the first pitch at City Schools Orioles Night on May 22. Mr. Butts now advances to the 2019-20 Maryland State Teacher of the Year competition. The winner of that competition will represent Maryland at the national level.

For more information about the Teacher of the Year award, Mr. Butts, and the other finalists, please visit