Joyce Butler '76 (psychology) is an educator and a difference maker. Her May 2011 "Lifetime Difference Maker Award" from The Coalition for the Advancement of Student Activities: The Student Leadership Training Program attests to this fact. Over the last 35 years Joyce has taught students at all levels from preschool school to college. Currently, she's the Director of Pupil Personnel Services for the South Hadley Public Schools in Massachusetts. In all these capacities, Joyce has helped students achieve their potential.
Joyce completed her senior thesis requirement for Purchase through her work at Columbia University on a sign language acquisition research program, entitled "Project Nim," studying the language acquisition of a young, male chimpanzee. James Marsh (Man on Wire) directed the film, Project Nim, which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and opened to theaters nationwide on July 8, 2011. Joyce is among the cast of the film. At Teachers College, Columbia University, she earned her Masters Degree with a specialization in Early Childhood Special Education. She later completed her Doctorate in Special Education Administration at UMASS Amherst.
Now living on top of a mountain in Great Barrington, MA, Joyce and her family reside in a house they built themselves. Her husband is the Chief of Police in Stockbridge. Her youngest son, Michael, is a musician who graduated from Purchase in 2010. She has two other children by marriage, James and Jennifer, and a grandson, Wesley.
Joyce is a great cook, loves to read, garden, hike, ski, teach skiing, travel and ride their horse, Patrick, who lives in the backyard. Her two two cats, Jack and Garcia, complete the family.
She's also writing a book, The Difference Maker, detailing how her belief system about education has developed.