Teacher Feature: Kathleen Buttitta

By Ella IIg, Staff Writer

Here at West, with over a hundred faculty members, it’s hard for one particular teacher to stand out from the masses. Kathleen Buttitta stands out for her care and attention to the math students of West. With close to no free time, she tries her hardest to help as much as she can within the limited 42 minutes. She teaches geometry, calculus and geometry extension, helping the students that are struggling with the abstract concepts. “Mrs. Buttitta is a really great teacher. She makes class fun by adding some jokes in. She always helps us and doesn’t yell at or raise her voice at us. She’s awesome,” sophomore geometry student Andra Balosin said.

In the classroom, she gives the students a fair amount of free time to do their work and makes an environment where students are open to asking for her help on certain problems. “My goal in the classroom is to teach students to think and communicate logically, I just happen to use mathematics as the medium.  I realize that not every student may enjoy mathematics, but I hope that I can get all my students to realize that they are capable of understanding and applying mathematical concepts with hard work and perseverance,” Buttitta said.

During class she makes sure she can get to as many students as possible without the help of a student teacher, some of her classes bursting at the seams with over 30 students. “Her teaching skills are great, I’ve learned a lot from her. She has a great work ethic. Her homework problems really help me prepare for the test. She helps me out with the algebra a lot,” senior calculus student Nico Bedrejo said.

Buttitta grew up in a Northwest suburb that would have sent her to New Trier, however she attended the neighboring Catholic school Marillac High. Her mother was a nurse turned stay-at-home mom to her and her four siblings, and her father was a local Orthopedic Surgeon. She didn’t even consider teaching until she was in college.

“I always liked math because it came easy to me. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but always liked working with kids, so I thought I would pursue teaching.  I found out after a few classes, that I made the right decision,” Buttitta said.

After getting her bachelors degree at Carnegie Mellon and her masters from the University of Chicago, she started teaching at West in 1993. In 2000, after just seven years at West, she left to be an actuarial analyst at a Chicago consulting firm. She did this for only 2 years before returning to West, where she has been for the past 15 years.

During her first few years she was involved in sponsoring several school activities, but after having her kids- two boys aged 8 and 10- she wants to spend as much time at home as she can.

“I want to spend as much time as possible with them while they still want to hang out with me. Once they don’t need me around as much, I plan on getting more involved in Niles West activities,” Buttitta said.