After graduating from Horizon High School in 2013, Mariah Butcher took a couple years off to volunteer with an organization that catered to kids in 6th-12th grade. That experience solidified her desire to teach. She says, “attending a big university seemed daunting, so I chose PVCC because it was inviting, inclusive, and safe.” Mariah says PVCC taught her the fundamental skills to be successful at a state university.
After completing her degree at PVCC, Mariah transferred to Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus. She was a part of the Transfer Honor Society and graduated summa cum laude from the College of Education two years later in 2019. She then returned to Phoenix and took a teaching position in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. She has been teaching at Palomino Intermediate School for three years.
She relates that, “as a 6th grade teacher at Palomino Intermediate School, I am always telling students they are capable of greatness and that they should dream big. I see some students in 6th grade that are already ready to quit school. That is when I give them the spiel about community college, specifically PVCC since it is right in their backyard. Many of my students would benefit from a more intimate learning environment before tackling a state school.”
Mariah’s PVCC journey recently came full circle when she returned to PVCC with her 6th graders. She says, “it was surreal walking on campus for the first time since graduating in 2016. I was a better version of myself, seasoned with life and teacher experience. My students loved going around campus and seeing the different rooms that are ‘cooler than our school.’ They liked the music studio, lab room, and math building. They liked choosing jobs and careers based on their learning styles and interests. They learned about how possible it was to go to college after high school. Many were inspired to complete high school as a result. They saw that PVCC gives them avenues to lives they thought they could not have. We explained scholarships to them and credits, and their interest was so much deeper. I think for the first time a lot of them saw they were made for something big. I was so grateful for the opportunity to watch their perspectives change in a place where mine did years ago.”
Mariah credits several teachers at PVCC for her success. She says, “Meggin Kirk was one of the most influential instructors. She ignited a drive I had all along. She helped me stay the course and helped me find my “teacher's voice.” Another full circle experience occurred when Mariah entered Diane Stryk’s math for Education majors class. Mariah says, “she was my 8th grade math teacher at Explorer Middle School and remembered me. Her warm spirit was exactly what I needed to finish my Associates Degree.” Mariah also notes her appreciation for her English 101 and 102 teacher, Lawrence Kraft, for his blunt, yet constructive feedback on her essays. She says, “I hadn’t written in so long, so he really challenged me to be better. Now I teach my 6th grade students the tools he taught me in writing.”