Return to Headlines

Booker Middle School Teacher Recognized by CFES Brilliant Pathways for Preparing Students for College and Careers

SARASOTA COUNTY, November 8, 2019 – When Booker Middle School Principal Dr. LaShawn Frost asked Haley Shaffer to become a CFES Brilliant Pathways liaison, she knew the social studies teacher would take the award-winning program to even greater heights.

Booker Middle is a CFES School of Distinction thanks to the schoolwide effort led by Frost and Shaffer. On November 1, at the CFES National Conference at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George, NY, Shaffer was given the Mario Peña Award in recognition of her work helping underserved youth gain access to higher education.

“I am honored and thrilled to receive this award,” said Shaffer. “I had no idea I was going to get it so it was a pleasant surprise. It’s reflective of the hard work and dedication of all of the staff at Booker Middle.”

Shaffer was recognized for helping launch an innovative new course in 2018 that expanded on a school-wide CFES program with an increased emphasis on Essential Skills and college and career readiness. Most students in the course— which includes sixth, seventh and eighth-graders —will be first-generation college students.

Named in honor and memory of former CFES Board Member, Mario Peña, CFES presents the award annually to an exceptional educator who helps develop and expand school-college collaborations that increase college access and success for underserved youth.

Visiting college campuses and exposing students to career opportunities has been a major component of the course. Shaffer coordinates trips with a “career of the month” theme, such as healthcare or engineering. She is partnering with UF Innovation Station Sarasota County to organize a field trip for 42 students next week to University of Florida. Students will participate in hands-on engineering activities, tour labs and meet with UF engineering students. The UF Innovation Station is committed to growing the pipeline of students attending engineering schools by supporting the efforts of the districts and the K-12 teachers.

 “Dr. Frost and Haley and have built one of the most successful CFES programs in the country,” said CFES President Rick Dalton. “The innovative class they launched is having a major impact on the life trajectories of all of their students.”

The course has a special focus on the Essential Skill of leadership. CFES Scholars worked alongside high school students in the Booker High School CFES program to collect over 200 pairs of pajamas for needy children through the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Other trips have helped highlight many of the opportunities in the Sarasota/Manatee area such as local colleges, technical schools, and businesses and industries. Our sincere congratulations to Ms. Haley Shaffer on this well-deserved award!

#