by Nancy Cawley Zugschwert
Graduating in the midst of a recession, social studies education major Jeff Button ’09 was looking at less than stellar prospects. “The job scene for stereotypical history teachers wasn’t there, but the Lord knows better than we do,” Button recalled as he described the faith journey involved in the job search.
Open to teach wherever the path would lead, Button landed a job at Liberty Classical Academy, a private Pre-K–12 Christian classical school in Maplewood, Minn. Now in his third year of teaching, Button teaches history, government and law for middle and high school students. His leadership skills were readily recognized and he also serves administratively as student coordinator for the high school.
“One of the things I loved about the teaching program was Northwestern got you into the classroom right away—first semester sophomore year,” he said. When he began his full-time teaching job, he had the practice and experience to handle it.
Modeling Christ beyond the classroom
In his role as an educator, Button’s greatest challenge is also his greatest opportunity. “As Christian educators we really need to model Christian behavior,” he observed. “We never really leave our work, never leave our title. I’m ‘Mr. Button’ wherever I see students…at Target, grocery stores, movie theaters. People know Christians should act differently, and they should be able to be recognized for those differences.” He added reflectively, “If we’re not different from the mainstream, what’s it for?”
Looking ahead, Button is aware that teaching is a legacy-building endeavor. “I remember the teachers that influenced me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the day when a student will invite me to their wedding…or an e-mail that says ‘I remember what you were talking about in class.’”
Button likes his job tremendously and enjoys an unusual perk at work: he works at the same school as his wife, Natalie (Bayer ’09) Button.