SLHS Principal Butler to Retire in June

Bruce Butler has led school since 2005, overseeing redistricting and renovation.

principal Bruce Butler will retire at the end of the school year. He announced his decision in a letter to parents and students on Monday.

Butler began his career in education as an earth science teacher at Herndon High in 1981. He was named assistant principal at Herndon High in 1993, then moved to South Lakes as an assistant principal in 1998. He was named principal of South Lakes in June 2005.

Butler graduated from Shippensburg University and earned his Master’s degree in secondary education from Virginia Tech.

FCPS awarded him the Nancy F. Sprague First-Year Administrator Award and named him 2007 Outstanding First-Year Principal by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).

He also saw the school through a multimillion dollar renovation and sometimes contentious redistricting battle. The school population has grown to more than 2,100 students during Butler's tenure, and test scores and achievment have risen. 

Former FCPS School Board Rep Stu Gibson (Hunter Mill) said he was surprised by Butler's announcement, but his tenure will have a lasting impact on the community.

"Bruce really helped create a cohesive community at South Lakes," said Gibson. "He showed he really cares about every child in the school. His enthusiasm in infectious, and students can't help but succeed.

"Under Bruce, the IB program has become a model," said Gibson. "I challenge you to find a school anywhere with the level of participation South Lakes has. I give Bruce a lot of credit. I think the school is a better place because of him."

Current Hunter Mill school board rep Pat Hynes says Butler "has become one of my heroes. "

"He understands how important relationships are in education," Hynes said. "He is one of those irreplaceable people. Bruce will be greatly missed."

South Lakes PTSA President Susan Sather says she will miss working with Butler.

"His ability to work on so many levels simultaneously, is impressive, and he is the person who can with one word, get things done," said Sather. "Bruce is engaged in everything that goes on in the building, has a strong vision for the large picture educationally, and a level of caring for individual students that goes far beyond what anyone might expect. "  

Here is what Butler said in an email to South Lakes families on Monday:

Seahawk Parents and Students,

I will be retiring from Fairfax County Schools on June 29, 2012.  It truly has been an honor to work with the students, faculty, and parents of the greater South Lakes High School community. Throughout my fourteen years at South Lakes, your children have made it a very special place to work, learn, and grow. Your support has been invaluable and will remain elemental to the continued advancement of South Lakes High School.  Thanks to all of you for making my years here the most rewarding of my career.


Bruce Butler
South Lakes High School

Patch will have more details as they become available.

Kirsten April 24, 2012 at 01:34 AM
I'm so glad we have freedom of speeh so people like you can make themselves sound ridiculous for making blanket statements like that without anything to back it up.
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 01:34 AM
So far your arguments have been weak against Mr. Butler. If you think you can waltz in here and bash Mr. Butler, you got some bashing coming your way. All the evidence you have provided so far is hogwash! "Butler was beloved by the IB moms only." Hogwash must I repeat! I am an IB student right now at SLHS, and I have to say that I know a lot of honors, and standard-level students who absolutely ADORE Mr. Butler. In fact, I have even met parents of such standard-level students at some school meetings that praise Butler for assisting their children into higher level classes; to excel beyond their dreams; to dream the unthinkable.
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Thank you Karen. Rod, like Ms. Zammit, get your facts right before you even try commenting. Butler never, "coverinf his ass" (which I am assuming to be covering due to an unintelligible typo). The man is respectable. When bad things happened at the school, you know what he did instead of cowering in his office like a terrible principle? He stuck his neck out. And by the way you just got me started on the subject of bullying. Prepare to be blasted away. Did you honestly think the suicide at SLHS was Butler's fault? Did you HONESTLY think that? You know the real reason? Bullying and stress. For a young adolescent, being bullied will make them cower and not want to break the news to anyone. They don't want help. Butler would have done EVERYTHING he could have to prevent the suicide, but the kid never told anyone. Get your facts, (and might I add spelling and typography) right before you try again.
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Let this be a warning to those who even THINK about insulting Butler for his work. If you do, I will destroy your fake arguments that will make you wish you didn't step in Seahawk territory. That means you Ms. Zammit and Mr. Koozmin. I am not a hero. I am a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Seahawk knight.
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Oh let me see... Where shall I start? Your false evidence, or your terrible spelling? I am very well educated on this specific subject, and all I have to say is that I was personally involved in this to get our sidewalks shoveled so that the walking students can get to school safely. And you know what? Mr. Butler also supported the cause in campaigning for either school delay, closing, or shoveled sidewalks. And think, if you can at all... Is it really possible to shovel all the sidewalks in Reston? Try again. I dare you.
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Thank you Kirsten. Pointing out the simplicity of their error can truly make them look like a complete fool.
Matt Dopsovic April 24, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Who do you think you are? Mr. Butler is a great man. He's done more for South Lakes than any previous principal.
Matt Dopsovic April 24, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Well... You know what? IB is the most advanced program of study. Most students are taking one or more IB classes. You're a moron. Just because it's ruled by the IB parents doesn't make it a bad thing.
Matt Dopsovic April 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
1) Mr. Butler has stuck his neck out for me 3 times that I can count off the top of my head. 2) he's a great guy, he gets to know his students and legitimately cares. 3) He's the best principal I've ever had 4) I'd like to see you run a school
Anonymous Doe April 24, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Stacey Zammit, how brave of you to put such insolent comments in a strong community. By the way, there is a reply button to prevent spam. The more you know! http://bit.ly/GT1Et1
Karen Goff April 24, 2012 at 02:56 AM
people, let's keep it civil and on topic.
Karen Goff April 24, 2012 at 02:58 AM
As in don't threaten anyone or call them a moron. We can agree or disagree about mr. Butler without that.
Ellen April 24, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I can give my opinion which was not obnoxious. Many people just didn't like my opinions about Butler. It's not important what I say as long as I don't threaten anyone. Similarly you can state your opinion using incorrect English as long as you don't threaten
Gail Xue April 24, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Stacey, you may be a "brave" attacker of a well respected principal, but you've just made yourself a target of those who truly love Mr. Butler, and he very well deserves the flood of affections as displayed above. Your comments are way off the line and I am suspecting if this is the way you teach your girls. You may hold a grudge against Mr. Butler, but that doesn't give you a pass to being obnoxious. Mr. Butler has been SLH's blessing and he is truly irreplaceable. Mr. Butler, PLEASE reconsider!
Deb Becker April 24, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Chill,Stacey. No one is picking on your children and no one said they were going to "target" either you or them. Let's not blow this out of proportion. For those of us wishing to go ballistic, we have nearly seven months of presidential electioneering that we can use to vent our hostility on. ;)
Rod Koozmin April 24, 2012 at 08:05 AM
He's sure to into politics locally now as he has all the qualities of successful Democratic candidates: very well paid with high personal income and says the right thing and looks superficislly good but dose the most self serving thing.
Anna Ouspenskaya April 24, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Why can't I flag this comment as "inappropriate"?!?! There is a button, but it isn't working. Ms. Stacey, I find your comment rude and inappropriate not because of the actual opinion you expressed, but because you gave no reason for your opinion. As it looks at the moment, it is not an opinion at all, but a mad dog's barking, which should be taken down immediately, shame on the blog's owners for keeping it public for so long! And, unless you come out and explain yourself, I am going to complain. Mr. Butler, you are a great man, you made kids feel welcome, comfortable, yet responsible for their actions at school. You also took time and effort to learn at least a little bit about every child there. Our son admires you for being always seen in school hallways, and for being available to talk to, for being caring and knowledgeable about kids in school and their personal stories, and for never being a "high up there" authority, but a man who cares. You also hired great staff to help you run the school. We hope our next principal will live up to your standards.
Ellen Jennings April 24, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Thanks very much to Mr. Butler for his years of service, hard work and great results. I am hoping that the staff and the system that he put in place can continue the progress. For those who are unhappy - if you have issues with Mr. Butler or with the schools in general then volunteer, get involved and work to be a positive influence. We need as many people involved as possible in our children's lives.
Barbara Moody April 24, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I am appalled at some of the comments on here. To even suggest that Bruce Butler was responsible for a suicide is disgraceful and disgusting. And "Sidewalkgate"? Just beyond ridiculous. I have had two of my children attend South Lakes High School, and I cannot adequately express how much we have all loved that school. The progress it has made under Mr. Butler has been enormous. It went from having an undeserved bad reputation, to being one of the top high schools in the county, with a huge increase in the number of students opting in. It is a truly diverse school, with great opportunities for its students. I saw first hand how Mr. Butler worked to improve every aspect of that school. Are there still challenges? Of course. But I thank Mr. Butler for his hard work and dedication and the enormous accomplishments he made there as principal. He will be missed.
Ryan McElveen April 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Bruce, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with you, if only for a short time. Thanks for all you've done for the SLHS community!
Teri Cochrane April 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Mr. Butler only deserves to be showered with praise and admiration for all he has done for the South Lakes community. He has been the instrument of change and has not only helped to transform South Lakes’ reputation, but his leadership and role modeling has motivated the student population to really become one family, one Seahawk family. Thank you Mr. Butler for your days and nights of service year after year, for your gentle and genuine heart and for your courage. You leave a legacy of which you should be very proud.
Abner Bieberman April 24, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I am glad he is going. he was a tool of Stu Gibson who only worked to ensure his daughter's alma mater had the appearance of positive reviews. The IB program is poor compared to AP and more expensive. There is no logical reason for its existance in SLHS. Butler had no courage to speak the truth. If IB was so good, why is not at TJ? Why did Butler not place his daughter in an IB program? Why do most colleges still not accept it? One thing for sure, Bruce was smooth. Unless the next person is just as smooth, SLHS reputation will swirl down to its true (i.e., uninflated) level.
Michael April 24, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I'm amazed at the sheer hatred expressed by some people on this thread. This is hardly the time to be so vengeful in your comments. For myself, I think he's been great. I've volunteered with dozens of SLHS students over the past 10 years. Only about 5 of them were IB candidates. I'm amazed at how much the tone and attitude in the school changed (for the better) under Mr. Butler. Students felt safer, and instruction improved dramatically. Is it a perfect environment? No - but neither is any other high school in the country. What has impressed me most about Mr. Butler is that wasn't just saying what people wanted to hear - I saw, year on year, that he meant what he said, and worked hard to improve the environment for ALL of his students. There is a lot of substance behind those positive reviews. When someone like Ms. Zammit directly states that "only the IB moms" were happy, it's simply a lie. She may speak for herself, and tell us why she's unhappy. She may NOT speak for everyone else. The same goes for all the other detractors - you are entitled to your opinion. It is offensive, in the highest degree, when you state that your opinion must automatically be felt by others as well.
Abner Bieberman April 24, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Back at ya Mikey - It is offensive, in the highest degree, when you state that your opinion must automatically be felt by others as well.
Bert Katz April 24, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Stacy, what are you talkng about with your comment to Michael...it makes no sense
Deb Becker April 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I've been in IT for years and one of the rules of online posting has always been "Don't Feed the Trolls." The more response provocative posters get, the more they post (and the more inflammatory the rhetoric gets). It's not worth anyone's time and energy to get excited about this and encourage discourteous argument. Ignore the comments and they'll get tired and go away.
Karen Goff April 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Stacey. Please don't speak on behalf of Patch or our advertisers. Thanks.
John Pugh April 25, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Great article and tribute to Bruce. We all knew him as Mr. Butler when I went to Herndon High School 17 years ago. Bruce holds people accountable for there actions, while also being fair, which is why he was such a success as a principal. Mr Butler thanks for all the good advice and guidance and oh yeah thanks for letting me win when we would play one on one basketball. I wish the world had more Bruce Butlers. Good luck and enjoy retirement. John
Maria Allen April 25, 2012 at 05:38 AM
It's hard to imagine South Lakes HS without Bruce Butler. He has worked so hard and achieved so much! Our whole community - parents, students and teachers - will miss him.
Mike M April 29, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Thank you, Mr. Butler. I believe South Lakes had earned it's bad reputation. That reputation is now fading into memory now. You really transformed this school into one of the county's best. I am sorry to see you go.


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