Vol 4: Justin Butler ’04
Q&A with Holland Hall Director of Enrollment Management Justin Butler ’04
The admission and financial aid process at any Independent School can be both sensitive and exhilarating, depending on whom you ask. It is easy to be on the outside of the decisions of the Admission Office and negatively judge outcomes. Misconceptions of the process can make or break the successful acquisition of a prospective student.The Holland Hall admission process is no stranger to rumors. Our community stretches far and wide and is similar to a game of telephone, the facts tend to blur as they pass from word of mouth to text to social media, etc. There is no better way to address myths and relay the exciting benefits of a Holland Hall education to all families in our Tulsa community than to hear it straight from the mouth of our Director of Enrollment Management, Justin Butler ’04.We sat down with Justin to ask him a few questions about his first year at the helm of the Admission Department. Here’s what he had to say..HH: Tell us the quick version about your life at Holland Hall.JB: You could say we are a Holland Hall family. We moved to Tulsa (my mother’s hometown) from D.C. after I was born. My older brother Rob ’94 and sister Ericka ’98 immediately started at Holland Hall, and I began in preschool a few years later.My father worked at Holland Hall for several years as the Assistant Director of Admission, Diversity Coordinator, wellness teacher, and Middle School soccer and track coach. My brother also worked here for ten years as a 6th and 7th Grade English teacher, Middle School basketball coach, off-season trainer, track and field coach, and assisted in Admission.After graduation from Holland Hall, I went on to play football and study Education at The University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University for Science and Technology), finishing my undergraduate studies at NSU in Tulsa. In 2010, I began working at Holland Hall as a teaching assistant in 6th, 7th, and 8th Grades, as well as a Middle School coach and varsity assistant coach for football, soccer, and track. After a few years, I transitioned to Middle School Athletics Director, 4th and 5th Grade Dean of Students, Middle School wellness teacher, K-6th Grade Youth Sports Coordinator, head coach of Middle School football and track, and Middle School Diversity Coordinator. Over the years, I have been fortunate to gain experience and knowledge through these different roles at the school.HH: In July 2017, you were offered the Director of Enrollment Managementposition. How did you feel when Holland Hall approached you about this job?JB: I was honored and, honestly, nervous. It is humbling to be a part of the office that is responsible for communicating the value of Holland Hall to the community. We are hopeful that we are, and are intentionally mindful of being, an accurate reflection of the Holland Hall community to everyone we encounter. The job becomes easier when you have an excellent team working with you, as I have with Katie Parker, Amber Graybill, Monica Lind Martin ’01, Christy Utter ’92, and Brian Thompson.HH: What did you learn while at Holland Hall that helped prepare you for life after college and into this newest position?JB: I learned the value of showing people you care. Not just through daily interaction, but in your approach to the task and how you carry yourself.HH: What is your favorite restaurant in town?JB: Anywhere with French Fries. If they have steak-frites that is a bonus.HH: Since you love French Fries, describe the best.JB: I require substantial French Fries with depth. I do not have much time for shoestring fries. I can appreciate various shapes as long as there is a crisp exterior with a pillowy interior.HH: What is your favorite movie and why?JB: Shrek. Shrek is about valuing people for who they truly are, not just what is on the surface. It also portrays the importance of accepting yourself for who you are and from where you come.HH: You are also a coach at Holland Hall. What inspires you about the athletes you coach?JB: We require a lot from our students. We ask them to be dedicated in every facet of what they do, which spills over into every space they inhabit: academically, athletically, and artistically. The emphasis in each area is the same — be the best you that you can be. Therefore, working with our students and watching them push themselves regardless of their ability is what inspires me as a coach. Coaching is a petri dish of relational interaction and intrinsic motivation. Observing students learning how to interact with peers of differing backgrounds, overcoming adverse situations, developing life skills such as punctuality, respect, follow through, and leadership is what motivates us to grab the whistle each season.HH: What are some of the highlights of your first year as Director of Enrollment Management?JB: On the first day in my new position, I called a family with the news of their acceptance. Hearing the excitement from that family about their next chapter in life is difficult to describe, it was truly inspirational. Another highlight is growing with the people in our department and learning from them and everyone else that does a lot of work behind the scenes which often goes unnoticed. It truly takes a lot of effort from everyone on the campus to create the excellent product that is Holland Hall. Lastly, another highlight has been the challenges. There have been many, as is a natural element of life, but it is rewarding to work through difficulties with people that invest in doing what is right for students and families.HH: What do you find most rewarding about being a part of the admission process?JB: People. I enjoy talking to people and learning about them. The more you talk to people, the more you realize that regardless of the walk of life you come from, we all have fundamental core principles. Everyone wants to be understood, everyone wants to be safe, and everyone wants his or her child to be in the best situation possible.HH: If you had just 2 minutes with a prospective Holland Hall family, what would you tell them about our school?JB: There are a lot of good schools; there are many places where your child will be a successful student. Our school affords your child the opportunity to be as extraordinary as they want to be by providing them with exceptional academic, artistic, athletic, and experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Holland Hall stands apart from the rest because here you can get all you need to be successful in life. We are and always will be about the whole child. There is nowhere that accomplishes relationships and community like Holland Hall.HH: In 2017-18, Holland Hall welcomed 162 new students compared to the 3-year average of 127. To what would you attribute the recent surge in admissions?JB: Everyone on our campus is working in the same direction and understands the power of influence through experience. Meaning, everyone who has been privy to remarkable moments in a student’s experience, or been influenced by the value of our school community, is sharing the magnitude of those interactions with prospective new families. Combine that with tireless effort from faculty, staff, coaches, maintenance and grounds, the Business Office, College Counseling, Advancement, and Communications, you have a harmonious conglomeration of excellence. That is contagious!HH: Do alumni families automatically get financial aid?JB: No, currently there is no alumni student discount. Every family goes through he same process for applying for financial aid. That being said, we are committed to alumni students being at Holland Hall and welcome a conversation with alumni families who are concerned about finances. Please reach out to me in these instances.HH: Does Holland Hall offer merit-based scholarships?JB: Yes, we have one merit-based scholarship, The Les and Ellen Goddard Merit Scholarship which is awarded to one incoming 6th and 9th Grade student as well as one rising 9th Grade student (from our current 8th Grade class). This scholarship is renewable until graduation should the student maintain the criteria necessary for the award.HH: Does Holland Hall recruit athletes and give out athletic scholarships?JB: No, there is no such thing.HH: Does the admission process usually take 6-8 months to complete?JB: The admission process can move swiftly once we are able to obtain the necessary information for a student’s admission file for a decision to be made. After the file is completed, we aim for a one-week turnaround (barring holidays and breaks), to communicate an admission decision to families. The longer part of the process is with regard to tuition assistance. We process aid for our re-enrolling families first, in the early spring, before we are able to communicate awards to prospective families.