The following is the sixth in a series on Independent School District 549 retirees for the 2023 school year.
Perham High School Science Teacher Shawn Stafki is stepping away from the job. Stafki has served 28 years with Independent School District 549. He has worn many different hats for the ISD 549 during his tenure with the district.
Stafki has found himself in several different roles during his time with ISD 549. He served as a half-time science teacher and Area Learning Center Director for four years. He was a full-time science teacher for the next 24 years. He has served as the Science Research Coach/Mentor for 21 years, sending several students to the State and International Science Fairs.
Stafki has been honored by his peers for his work during his time. He was named the ISD 549 Teacher of the Year in 2013-14. He was named the Minnesota Western Region Science Fair Mentor of the Year in 2017 and was named the Minnesota Academy of Science’s Science Fair Mentor of the Year in 2018.
Stafki said he has too many favorite memories to choose from during his time with the school district.
“All of my favorites involve working with students,” Stafki said. “Knowledge Bowl competitions are definitely on the list, but I would have to say watching my science research students win an award at the Minnesota State Science Fair and also watching the four students who have won awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair in my 21 years of mentoring, definitely have to be my favorites! Watching their faces then their name gets called was always a highlight of my year.”
Stafki says he plans on spending a lot more time with his wife, his five grandchildren and chasing pheasants with his sons and hunting dog.
When asked what advice he would share with new professionals, Stafki said to learn from everyone around you.
“The one thing I tell all of the student teachers I have worked with is this–to be a good teacher is to be a good thief,” Stafki said. “By this I mean, learn from everything and everyone you meet. You will learn more from good teachers around you than anything you can learn in a college course.”
Stafki is grateful for the many teaching mentors and colleagues he has had during his career.
“People like Les Gunderson, Clarence Reuer, Bob Wilkowski, Sandra Wiser-Matthews, Sue Tostenson, Bob Tangen and Becky Rennicke taught me some amazing lessons on what it means to be an effective teacher,” Stafki said. “I learned a little bit from each of them and will forever be in their debt.”