Teacher Profile: Mike Butler

By Alicia Nierenstein | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Passion for history shows through to students

Photo by Mary Elizabeth Fair

When Mike Butler was 21 years old, he never imagined he would be standing in front of a classroom in St. Augustine teaching students about American and southern history and civil rights.

He always had an interest and knack for history, though. After growing up in Mobile, Ala., he decided to study at Spring Hill College, where he declared history as his major. He continued his education with graduate school at the University of Mississippi. In 2001, he was the youngest to graduate with a doctorate in history, the professional achievement he is most proud of.

He then spent eight years teaching world and American history at South Georgia College in Douglas, Ga. He found Flagler through a national job search and decided he wanted to teach upper-division courses.

“Florida is very historical, and very diverse,” Butler said on his change of scenery from Georgia to Florida.

As an assistant professor of history in the Liberal Studies department, this semester he teaches Southern Cultural History and the History of Rock and Roll, a new class.

“So far my favorite my thing has been exposing history majors to new topics and new subjects. It has been a lot of fun to expose them to new historical areas,” Butler said.

His students also enjoy his classes. Sophomore Rachel Borda said his teaching style draws her attention in class.

“He is the reason that I wanted to become a history teacher,” she said. “His teaching methods are really helpful, and I have learned a lot from him.”

Butler helped coordinate the visit of the Rev. H. K. Matthews, who came to speak at the college in January.

Matthews was extremely active in the civil rights movement in Pensacola, Fla., during the 1960s. Butler met him while doing research for his dissertation.

Matthews owns a collection of audiotapes and court documents following the civil rights movement. Butler wrote Matthews’ memoir, Victory After the Fall, published last spring.

Now Butler is working on a book about the civil rights movement in Pensacola called Beyond Integration. It focuses on what happens in a community after integration in the 1960s.

Butler says this is an interesting topic because most historians have yet to explore the history in Pensacola during that time period. He is framing the book in traditional historical exploration, and he wants to convey the importance of the topic.

“This is reality, after the television cameras quit covering it all,” Butler said. He hopes to finish the book by the end of this summer.

Butler is coordinating a trip for May 2010. Working with EF Tours, he plans to take 30 students to World War II sites in England, France and Germany for two weeks.

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