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Alumna named AAFCS Teacher of the Year

(Editor’s note: The following article featuring Tia Shaffer, a 2005 UIU graduate majoring in elementary education, was republished with permission of Fusion Forward.)

One of Independence (Iowa) Community School District’s very own educators has been honored as a top Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) educator in Iowa.

FCS teacher Tia Shaffer has been named Iowa’s 2020 American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) Teacher of the Year. Iowa’s AAFCS Awards Chair Cindy Waters says Shaffer met the award requirements perfectly.

Tia Shaffer

“This award was established to provide recognition for innovative, creative programming and teaching methods in family and consumer sciences and for effectiveness in stimulating student motivation plus personal growth,” said Waters. “This description is spot on for Tia Shaffer.”

Waters also noted Shaffer’s professionalism and passion for all things FCS, mentioning the strong program she has helped maintain at Independence.

“Tia’s program is thriving and changing to meet the needs of the students,” said Waters. “Not only are her courses in great demand, she is well-liked and respected by colleagues, administrators, and parents as well.”

Principal John Howard also recognizes the hard work Shaffer puts in to maintain a strong FCS program at Independence, and commends her for this achievement.

“Tia does an outstanding job for our FCS department on a daily basis,” said Howard. “I could not be more proud that the AAFCS recognizes this fact and is honoring her with this award.”

Shaffer began teaching FCS in Independence in 2005, starting at the middle school level before obtaining a 5-12 FCS endorsement later on. Shortly after she began teaching FCS, Shaffer realized she had found her passion.

“I was teaching students about all of the things I really enjoyed when I was a student in Home Economics classes, and could help them develop the tools they needed to be successful in their personal lives, families, and careers,” said Shaffer. “I was able to draw upon my age and life experience to help engage students in a curriculum that felt so natural to teach.”

Shaffer is now entering her 26th year as an educator, 15 of which have been spent here in Independence. She says she had no idea she would be this year’s award recipient, and is grateful for the opportunity to work in and contribute to Independence’s Career and Technology Education department.

“I feel blessed to have been mentored by former Independence FCS teachers who built strong program,” said Shaffer. “I love that I am able to teach 7th-12th graders all in the same day in a beautiful building, and I have built some very strong relationships with former students in the last 15 years.”

In the classroom, Shaffer says she treats her students like they are her own children, all while teaching a range of important topics.

“It’s my job to address the complex social, emotional, and economic issues my students face today,” said Shaffer. “I want students excited to come in my classroom knowing that above all, building positive relationships, respect and integrity are important in all areas of their personal and professional lives.  I sometimes feel like I am their teacher, mom, grandma, and boss all rolled into one—but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

In addition to teaching important life lessons and providing a safe space for students to ask hard questions, Shaffer is also one of four FCS educators in Iowa certified to offer early childhood classes through Hawkeye Community College to high school students. Students participating in these classes gain college credits and are eligible for the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.

Shaffer, along with her FCS colleague Mrs. Winn, also implemented a Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Chapter in Independence a few years ago, giving students the opportunity to address personal, work, and societal issues through individual and chapter projects. Even with a short history, Independence’s FCCLA Chapter has already had students move on to compete at the state level.

“We have a small but strong FCCLA Chapter that really loves service learning and giving back to our community,” said Shaffer.

Shaffer credits her former and current coworkers, colleagues, and students for their help in giving her, and the Independence Community School District, much to be proud of.

“I attribute my success in the profession and organization to the wonderful mentors and role models who continue to inspire me and encourage me to be the best version of me, and to represent our profession,” said Shaffer.

For more information regarding the AAFCS Teacher of the Year Award, visit https://www.aafcs.org/resources/recognition/awards.

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