Lifelong educator lights up neighborhood school
By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Terra Shaffner
Terra Shaffner has education in her blood. Her mother and grandmother were both teachers. As a child, when she had a break in her own school, she went with them to theirs. She loved to visit their classrooms.
Shaffner grew up in the shadow of South Dakota’s Black Hills. Staying close to home, she studied elementary and special education at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. She had an added incentive to stay; she married her high school sweetheart. They have two children, now both young adults.
Lockheed Martin brought the Shaffner family here in 2005. They settled in Castle Pines and Shaffner joined the Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) family. Shaffner taught first grade for ten years, second grade for three years, and this is her fourth year teaching third grade at BRE. She had 11 years of teaching experience before coming to BRE, four years in special education at a kindergarten through fifth grade school, and then another seven years teaching first grade when she lived in Kansas. All together Shaffner has been a professional educator for 28 years.
Elementary school is a good fit for Shaffner, as she enjoys teaching all subjects. She loves the family-like relationships at BRE and the support of the whole school community.
Outside of school, Shaffner can be found in her garden or on a boat if the weather is nice. In the winter, she enjoys being in the mountains riding snowmobiles. Reading and baking are also favorite activities for Shaffner.
With her characteristic high energy, Shaffner is known among BRE students for many qualities, including humor, pulling teeth, boisterousness, and she loves to make up nicknames for her students. She often wears bright colors and high-heeled shoes. She loves being around students and being able to support them in a variety of ways. Last year’s mostly online format was challenging for Shaffner because she felt very limited in the way she could help and support her students.
Shaffner enjoys the small town feel of the community. “Being able to go out [in the community] and see families outside of school and to see students I’ve had in the past,” is a joy said Shaffner. She’s a favorite teacher at BRE, and the relationships Shaffner develops with students are lasting. “It’s great when former students come to visit or volunteer in my classroom,” Shaffner said.