2017 News Stories

USF College of Education recognizes Dr. Craig Butz with inaugural Community Partnership Award

Dr. Craig Butz

Dr. Craig Butz, former director of the Pepin Academies who tragically passed away earlier this fall in a boating accident, will be honored as the inaugural recipient of the College of Education's Community Partnership Award. 

TAMPA, Fla. (November 14, 2017) – The University of South Florida (USF) College of Education is deeply honored to announce Dr. Craig Butz, former Executive Director of Pepin Academies, as the 2017 recipient of the inaugural Community Partnership Award in recognition of his leadership of Pepin Academies

The Community Partnership Award was established to recognize individuals and organizations who have collaborated with the College of Education to tackle contemporary challenges and opportunities in education through innovative solutions. Award winners are selected based on their initiative, leadership and involvement in projects that embody the spirit of genuine partnership and that benefit the overall community. Dr. Butz tragically passed away earlier this fall in a boating accident.  

Dr. Butz earned his master's degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills and his Ph.D. in special education at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. After serving in the Los Angeles School District teaching physical education to students with learning-related disabilities, he became an administrator at a charter school in Las Vegas, and spent two years as principal of the Chicago Virtual Charter School before joining Pepin Academies in 2013.

“Dr. Butz arrived at Pepin Academies during a time of change and transition, and in his short four years as Executive Director, he expertly navigated this new environment and brought all stakeholders advancing the mission and accomplishments of the schools tenfold,” said Pepin Academics Board of Directors Chair Dr. Jeff Skowronek. “Dr. Butz was an ardent believer in collaborations with local universities, promoting growth through research, internships, and strong partnerships. The Pepin Summer Institute run by faculty at the University of South Florida was a vital piece to his vision of success. His love and support of this program not only showed his dedication to the students of Pepin, but also for those that would one day teach our students.”

Pepin Academies is a tuition-free public charter school serving elementary to 12th graders who have a range of special needs from attention deficit disorder to autism to chronic health disorders. The school has a unique partnership with the university that is a model for a reciprocal educational relationship and an opportunity for both USF’s student teachers and Pepin’s students.

Faculty in the College of Education have worked with Pepin Academies to build up a strong year-round connection culminating in a free, four-week summer institute for interested Pepin students. The Pepin Summer Institute allows USF student teachers in the Exceptional Student Education program the unique opportunity to develop and implement, with the guidance of their professors, an academic summer school curriculum of their own.

“The community has lost a great educational leader and a great believer in accommodations for all children in our community,” said College of Education Interim Dean Roger Brindley. “Dr. Butz has been a tremendous supporter of our college, our special education program, our students, and above all the children who have been educated over the years at Pepin Academies.” 

The award will be accepted on behalf of Dr. Butz by Jeff Skowronek and Tom Pepin during the College of Education’s 15th Annual Education in Action Luncheon on Wednesday, November 15.

About the USF College of Education:
As one of the top 100 colleges of education in the nation, the USF College of Education is committed to preparing the next generation of leaders in the field of education. Through innovative research opportunities, hands-on field experiences and community partnerships, the College of Education provides the resources students need to be world-class educators, researchers and leaders. The USF College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and is fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.

For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Engasser
Director of Communications
USF College of Education