Nicole Butler-Hooton, Irving Elementary School
Nicole Butler-Hooton has been a second grade teacher at Irving Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon, for 15 years. She was named the 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year, becoming the first Indigenous teacher in Oregon to earn this recognition. Butler-Hooten is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians- Chetco Band (Oregon) and the San Carlos Apache Tribe (Arizona). A first-generation college graduate, she values making connections with students, families and the school community, while centering equity and cultural competency in her teaching. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a focus on ethnic studies, and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Oregon, where she was part of the Sapsik'ʷałá Teacher Education Program that supports Native educators. Butler-Hooton says her primary professional goal is to build rapport and make a positive difference in her student’s lives. She’s deeply involved in the Oregon Indian Education Association (OIEA), the University of Oregon Community Diversity Advisory Committee, the Western Regional Educator's Network to establish affinity groups for educators of color, Oregon Empowerment Academy/OEA, and the Bethel School District Professional Learning Community for Culturally Sustaining Practices. She believes that Indigenous children need access to a more truthful education that allows them to realize their Indigenous self-identity, language and culture through accurate representation in their lives.