John David Butler was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He joined the military service with the United States Army as a basic infantryman in March 1987. After completing One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he attended several military schools and served in both light and mechanized infantry units in the United States and Europe. Dr. Butler left the army in October 1990 as a sergeant, but was recalled for active duty to support Operation Desert Storm from January 1991 through March 1991.
In April 1991, Dr. Butler enrolled at Texas A&M University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aquaculture. He continued his education and graduated with three master's degrees: M. Ed. in Educational Administration (University of Texas at Brownsville), M.B.A (University of Texas Pan American), and Ed.D., Curriculum and Instruction (University of Houston).
Dr. Butler's started his teaching career at the Marine Military Academy; courses included: Physical Science, Biology, Biology Honors, Physiology and Anatomy, and Algebra. He currently serves as the Dean of Academics and Chief Financial Officer of the Marine Military Academy. Dr. Butler also teaches undergraduate and graduate business in educational leadership and curriculum development for other universities as an adjunct professor. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has recognized him as an Approved Quality Assurance Review Team Chair. He is also certified by the Texas State Board of Education as a Science Composite Teacher, Mid-Management Administrator, and Superintendent.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Butler serves on the board of directors for Loaves and Fishes of Harlingen, the Valley Zoological Society, SeaTurtle, Inc., the Marine Military Academy Foundation, and the Harlingen Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is a volunteer at the RGV Boys Scouts of America, Harlingen Youth Football League, and the Texas A&M Chapter of Quail Unlimited.
Dr. Butler's hobbies include fishing, hunting, skeet shooting, riding motorcycles, and a variety of water sports. He occasionally serves as the dive boat captain for offshore SCUBA trips. Dr. Butler is married to the former Denise Lynn Anderson and has two children, Hunter and Lauren.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
I have found facilitating online doctoral courses at GCU to be a very rewarding. GCU students have shown a level of scholarship and enthusiasm that rivals that of the most prestigious brick and mortar institutions. This, coupled with a dynamic curriculum and highly professional support staff, has created a positive learning environment for not only the students, but also for me. I have been challenged by the inquisitive nature of our great students and encouraged by the staff to exceed ordinary educational practices. In short, the GCU family has inspired me to "practice what I preach" and become an active learner along with my students.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
I am particularly fond of the Socratic approach to teaching in the online environment. It is my opinion that the discussion forums lend themselves to this instructional model quite well. Although it is not always as efficient as a more lecture-based approach, I feel the guiding questions associated with this strategy enhance the discussion and allow for greater student engagement in the learning process.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
I haven't really had a Horatio Alger styled success story in any of my classes. To me, the greatest success story is that GCU has clearly done an exceptional job of managing the student admissions process and accepting students with the motivation and academic skills necessary to succeed at a high level. In truth, almost all of my students have proven to be motivated and ethical learners focused on exceeding the requirements. The students I have had the pleasure of working with are all success stories for GCU on every level.