Passion for Education: Alumna Lives and Learns UF Lessons
Cassie (Holman) Schaffer ’11 wasn’t sure at first.
Attending a private university, she recalled, didn’t seem like a conceivable notion for her, since she was responsible for paying for her own education. The real issue, though, was that she had her heart set on one. The larger colleges just didn’t feel like a good fit for her. “When looking at the options in the area that had strong colleges of education,” she said, “I really wanted to attend a school that focused on the individual and where I could be more than just a face in the crowd.” That college she had her heart set on? The University of Findlay. The one, she said, that allowed her to gain confidence in herself and that encouraged her to learn and grow.
Schaffer graduated from Fostoria St. Wendelin, a small, Catholic high school near Findlay. One of the attributes of her upbringing within that school was that it was very community driven, something she also saw and appreciated in UF. “I wanted to go to a university that had a strong sense of community as well. I loved being surrounded by professors and other students that were as passionate about education as I am.” This notion of passion, whether it’s for animals, education, words, or numbers, is a distinct quality that many alumni retrospectively share as one of the principal elements that drew them to Findlay. It’s a part of the “meaningful life” that begins at UF, and that is instilled in its students to take with them out into the post-college world.
Taking her passion for education and creating a meaningful life–both for herself and those around her–is what Schaffer has done upon graduating with a degree in middle childhood education. Recently named the Director of Integration and Innovation for Van Buren Schools, Schaffer taught sixth grade at Van Buren for six years before taking on her current role. Developing into this position was, according to her, exciting, yet intimidating, and the work she does keeps her immersed in rewarding educational relationships and innovative academic enterprises. “Within the past year,” she explained, “I have worked to help develop a career pathway exploration program, assisted teachers with integrating technology into their classroom, and worked with teachers to create new learning experiences such as problem-based learning activities. Each day is exciting and different.”
Schaffer is quick to credit those at UF who helped her along the way, from in the classroom as a student to being in front of one as a teacher. Her time as an Oiler, she said, was invaluable to the professional she has become, and that is due, in part, to those who were around her during that time. “I was offered the teaching position at Van Buren a month after I graduated,” she disclosed. “I was also offered a position within the same week at the school where I student taught. I feel that my experiences and the connections I made at UF definitely helped me to obtain these job offers. I am extremely thankful to have such positive recommendations from both Connie Leatherman, the director of field experience and Cindy Thomas, field placement supervisor.”
But, as she reiterated, it all wouldn’t have been possible without some extra financial assistance. “Without my scholarships, I would not have been able to attend The University of Findlay and would’ve had to attend a larger, public university,” she explained. “I was ecstatic that attending UF would actually be a possibility for me, and not only am I extremely grateful for the scholarships that I received, but I am also thankful for the work study program. The flexibility to work, but still focus on earning my degree with a high level of excellence was very important to me,” she explained.
And it wasn’t just the monetary help that aided in her becoming a top-tier educator. Re-visiting the passion of UF she holds dear, she explained that being an educator goes beyond assistance and well into emulation. “Being around professors that were passionate about education was phenomenal” she said. “It taught me that when I was in my own classroom I needed to model the behaviors I wanted my students to have and show them that I was still learning just as I hoped they were.”
Now, she and her husband Seth have yet another young mind to mold, this one a bit younger than she’s used to. The couple welcomed their daughter, Mia, into the world just three months ago, and their daughter will no doubt carry on the life of passion and interest that made Schaffer so invested in UF to begin with. She now uses that passion to inspire the young lives that she guides through education.
“College is what you make of it,” she said. “Every opportunity is available to you. Every class, activity, and field placement is an opportunity to make new connections with people and gain new insights.”
That’s passion for you. And it’s an attribute that University of Findlay graduates carry very closely.
If you want to help students like Cassie make their dream of attending UF a reality, today (July 31st) is the fiscal year-end for the University. Make the biggest impact with a gift, in any amount, before the end of today, at give.findlay.edu.