PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – When 9-year-old Clayton became Mrs. Butler’s student last year, they instantly clicked.

“I love Clayton,” said Telinda Butler. “He is, always has been a soft spot for me because he is very similar to one of own grandchildren.”

Clayton has autism. Learning new things can be challenging. However, when he was placed in Mrs. Butler’s class at the St. Andrew School at Oakland Terrace, he only excelled.

“She really took the time to get to know him and meet him where he’s at,” said Clayton’s mother, Stacey Gemberling. “For the first time last year, him being in her class, he made AB honor roll, he’s learning to read.”

Clayton is no longer in Butler’s class but she makes time almost every day to check-in.

“You really have to get your kids to love you, then they’ll work for you,” said Telinda Butler. “I start first building that relationship to where they care and want to be here. Then, I can start teaching them and making progress.”

“Mrs. Butler is like the first teacher that’s really ever really gotten to see my son for who he really is and past his difficulties,” said Gemberling.

Butler loves teaching, especially at St. Andrew School. She said it’s the best-kept secret in Bay county.

“It’s the perfect blend of teaching and counseling,” said Butler. “Because these kids need so much more than just to learn to be readers, or do math,” said Butler. “They need to learn life skills. They need to learn to be able to make good choices even when they’re angry or frustrated.”

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