GANANDA, N.Y. (WROC) — Congratulations to our first Golden Apple Award winner of the 2022-2023 school year, Elliott Butt!

Butt is the principal of the Gananda Middle School, a position he took after teaching in the district for years.

“From 2006-2019, I taught at the high school, and in 2019, I became the middle school principal,” Butt said. “Unfortunately that year, we also had COVID, so it’s been a wild few years.”

But even though the past couple of years have been an adventure, Butt has managed to make a positive impact on his colleagues and students.

“Elliott’s dedication is unparalleled: to the kids, to the staff, to the community. He is the first person to be in this building and he’s the last person to leave the building,” said Bob Caulkins, a seventh-grade teacher, and Elliott’s assistant.

“He’s at evening events, he’s here on weekends, I know he’s opened the building on weekends for teachers to come in. He’s working with kids,” said Caulkins. “The middle school years can be a tough time for kids and Elliott is that anchor for kids, not only academically but socially and mentally.” 

Kathy Lepkowski, a librarian at the middle and high school, has known Butt for three years and calls him the “Ted Lasso” of the school.

“He comes in extra early every day to do his work before the kids come and he is dedicated, all day, to walking through the halls,” Lepkowski said. “He walks through the halls and makes sure that while he is here, and the kids are here, he is here for them. So he’s in the cafeteria, he’s in the hallway, he’s in the classrooms, he’s saying hello to the kids.”

Lepkowski said Butt went above and beyond specifically during the pandemic to make students feel comfortable. He also is the only principal she says she’s worked for that writes all his staff members hand-written letters for the holidays.

“He is an amazing leader,” Lepkowski said. “He truly cares for the entire student body, the staff, and the parents and he shows it. That’s the most important part.”

But for Butt, being there for those around him comes easy.

“My favorite part is being able to see the kids all day, so I can get into the classroom, see what they’re doing in the classroom, see them in the hallway, I love having lunch with them, just being able to see them in all aspects of the day,” Butt said. “When I was teaching, I only saw them in my classroom. As principal, I get to see the kids everywhere and they do some amazing things that we often can’t see.”

Over the past few years, Butt has had a big impact on many students, including seventh-grader Katie Shuttz.

“Something I’ve always liked is he can make a connection to each of the students individually. Whenever you’re talking to him, if he comes up to you at lunch to talk about anything, it’s kind of fun,” Shuttz said.

For Butt’s kindness and positivity, Shuttz wanted to surprise him with a Golden Apple Award through News 8. It was a special celebration the whole school got to partake in.

“I am completely shocked and surprised,” Butt said to his student body after receiving the award. “You’re all awesome. We’re not perfect, but we’re awesome, and we’re going to keep getting better and we have to believe in each other and we’re going to have a great year.”

Congratulations to Mr. Butt! Thank you for all you do in our community.

If you know a teacher or staff member you’d like to nominate for a Golden Apple award, nomination forms can be found here.