Coverage in a local newspaper aided NJ leader Jane
by Adrienne Affleck
New Jersey leader Jane Butler
retired in June of 1999 after spending 30 years in education.
For many, that would have been the end of the story, but Jane
was motivated by her love for children to begin a new career
in parent education.
Now she has teamed up with her
husband, Al, and teacher Karen Murray to form "Active Parenting
For The 21st Century." They are marketing five Active Parenting
workshops in the two counties surrounding the city of Moorestown.
Jane first began teaching parenting
skills in 1985 after receiving some materials from Active Parenting.
Eventually she bought materials for the entire school district.
As principal of Riverside Elementary, she implemented "Koffee
and Kids," a monthly lunchtime program that was funded by
the PTA. (To attract parents, she arranged for high school students
to serve as babysitters.) She further championed the cause by
using Active Teaching at teacher in-services.
Jane's post-retirement schedule
is as busy as the one she had as a school superintendent. In
fact, the day after she retired, the State Department of Education
asked her to audit the city's schools. She has continued to teach
future educators as an adjunct professor of the Alternative Teacher
Route, a program that has grown from 120 students to twice that
many in just three short years. She also uses the Active Teaching
workshop at the Substitute Institute, where she first offered
the workshop last October. Buoyed by its success, she offered
it again in February, and has another one planned for next October.
Known county-wide, Jane has quite
a network in place. She has contacts throughout Burlington and
Camden Counties, where people know her as a PTA president and
former principal. Currently, she is marketing four Active Parenting
programs (1,2,3,4 Parents!, Active
Parenting Today, Active Parenting of Teens,
Parents on Board and Active Christian
Parenting) through her 1500-member church, where she reaches
about 100 parents each year. Once the school audit is over, she
will actively market the workshops to the principals of the 100
elementary schools in Burlington County. Jane also hopes to present
an informational program to all of the ministers in the community.
News of her program has been
spreading, both through a newspaper article in the local paper
and by word of mouth. The company is a Butler family affair in
which her daughter designs brochures while her husband handles
the paperwork and serves as her marketing agent.
As a seasoned educator, Jane
knows where to look for the funding that is crucial to offering
these effective programs. She is currently eyeing Title I funds
for school based programs, and has contacted CASA, an alcohol
and substance abuse group, for monies that focus on community-based
Jane is fortunate to live in
a city that cares about children and education. The local high
school offers Active Parenting groups for parents of teens struggling
with alcohol and substance abuse problems. The Riggs Adult Center,
a community center for parents with children, also offers Active
To branch out, Jane has arranged
to lead 1,2,3,4 Parents! at the
YMCA this May. In summer she plans to prospect among area charter
and parochial schools. She has even found a Florida public school
that has successfully mandated parenting classes, using Title
I funds to offer them at no cost to the parents involved. Jane
fervently hopes that this is an idea that will catch on in her
school district as well.
Jane feels that too much parenting
is done in reaction to a crisis. Active Parenting teaches a more
present-oriented approach to shaping children's behavior and
attitudes. "We need to give children lots of unconditional
love, and to tell them that we trust them to make good decisions,"
she notes. "Parents need to take the time to practice positive
thinking, and to learn the language and attitudes that help build
better relationships. Meanwhile, their children need to learn
responsibility; something that is best practiced at home."
Clearly, Jane believes that this
is what she was meant to do: to continue to serve children by
helping parents become more encouraging, effective, and respectful.
Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright 2000 by Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.