She has been at Quest for 13 years, having taught sixth and seventh grade math and science before becoming dean of lower elementary. She also leads with the school’s professional development team, mentors, and new teachers. But the staff at Quest was able to keep a lid on the surprise celebration on March 2 for her winning the Dean of Excellence award – along with her husband and four children, who put what turned out to be a decoy event on the home calendar.
Bethany Garbutt’s family helped her celebrate winning the Dean of Excellence award.Teachers, students, and her family gathered in the gymnasium to honor Garbutt, who has been a big reason why Quest has outperformed the local district for seven years.
“It was a surprise, which is a not something that is super easy to do at a school,” Garbutt said. “I thought I was going to a ceremony for Admin Appreciation Week, and when I went in my family came strolling in through the back door, and then all of a sudden it was like "All right, this is more than just Admin Appreciation Week.”
The award is part of the National Heritage Academies (NHA) Excellence Awards – a program that honors educators, deans, and administrative teams across the NHA network. Each year, a select group is recognized by their leaders and peers for extraordinary performance. Garbutt has been a dean for the past 10 years and has been part of Quest’s marked improvement in state test scores in that time.
“I’m proud to be at a school that’s making a difference for our community,” she said. “We’re here for a reason, and it’s to provide the best education for these kids and a better education than they have at other schools.”
Bethany Garbutt’s husband and four children surprised her at the announcement assembly at Quest.Quest has seen gains by directing resources to K-second grade classrooms, which Garbutt oversees. A few years ago the school put a teacher and a paraprofessional in each K-2 classroom for extra attention in small groups to make sure students are more proficient by the time they reach the upper grades. The kindergarten team also showed students how to use hand signals to make letter sounds and shared the lesson throughout the wing to create a stronger foundation.
“If a kindergartener learns how to do some of these hand signals and gestures, then when they get to first and second grade, they’re not relearning a new way and they can stick with what they know and build off a foundation,” she said.
Garbutt also leads Quest’s professional development and coordinates teacher mentors with new teachers and guides other deans across NHA schools. She is leading Quest’s March is Reading Month activities, which include an effort to read a book about a different culture each week and a bookmark competition.
Executive Director of Schools Shawn Leonard congratulates Bethany Garbutt.
Those efforts make for an atmosphere that has students coming back long after they have moved on from eighth grade. Garbutt said there are former students of hers who now teach at Quest, and others who she sees stopping by as parents.
“Quest is a second home, it's a family,” she said. “I care about these people and spend more time with them than I do my own family when you look at the grand scheme of things. I care about the teachers, I care about my admin team, I care about the students, I care about the parents here. This community has become a part of you know, my life, too.”
Keep up the excellent work, Mrs. Garbutt!
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Quest Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Taylor, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 99 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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