Smith collects state award for FCS teaching talents

Scott Middle School students enjoyed walking into Tia Smith’s classroom this year because they knew they would leave with a full plate of important knowledge.
The Nebraska Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NAFCS) recognized Smith for preparing those educational meals this spring with the 2024 New Achiever Award. Smith, a native of Neligh, Neb., has taught family and consumer sciences (FCS) courses at Scott for the past two years. The New Achiever Award honors FCS teachers who have shown the potential to significantly contribute to the field during their career.

Cross County High School teacher Sarah Hubel presented the award to Smith at this year’s NAFCS State Convention. Hubel is past president of the NAFCS and has led many local and statewide teaching initiatives. She said Smith has displayed both strong leadership in the classroom and a willingness to help people across Nebraska.
“Tia was selected because of her significant early contributions to the field of family and consumer sciences,” Hubel said. “As a young professional, she has already taken on high-level leadership roles within our state for multiple professional organizations. She collaborates enthusiastically with other professionals to ensure that students across the state have quality family and consumer sciences opportunities.”
Kristin Vest, curriculum coordinator of FCS and health sciences at Lincoln Public Schools, served as NAFCS recording secretary this past school year. Vest said Smith has made a positive impression on everyone at Scott.
“Tia’s colleagues shared that Tia is positive, encouraging, dedicated, passionate and creative,” Vest said. “During staff meetings, Tia is always willing to share curriculum ideas and lesson plans, ask questions and seek feedback and strategies to best meet the needs of her students. Her positive attitude, even in the face of challenges or transitions, is enviable.”

The FCS curriculum at LPS includes a wide range of courses to help students learn skills such as food preparation, fashion and interior design, nutrition, sewing, hospitality and making wise consumer choices. Smith said she enjoys working with students in grades 6-8 because of their enthusiasm for the subjects she teaches.
“I love their perspective on things,” Smith said. “They get so excited about little things, so it’s really fun to get to introduce them to new concepts. They get so excited and they always bring energy.”
Smith became interested in FCS when she attended Neligh-Oakdale High School in northeast Nebraska. She was involved in her school’s chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), which incorporates many FCS topics into state and national activities. She said her time in FCCLA inspired her to choose a teaching career.
“One year when I was at the state conference, they brought up all these teachers who were retiring, and it hit me that all of the things I love to do are encompassed into FCS,” Smith said. “Then, when I got into classrooms doing practicums, I realized that I love being in classrooms with students and getting to teach them. It started as a love for the content area, and then it became a love for teaching kids.”
Smith attended Northeast Community College and Wayne State College before completing a student-teaching assignment at Southwest High School. She enjoyed being in Lincoln and applied for an open position at Scott when she received her college degree.
Smith was also excited to reunite with Vest at LPS. She was a member of a FCCLA state peer education team in high school, and Vest served as that group’s advisor.
“She’s an absolute, fantastic role model and a real champion for family and consumer sciences, so I just want to thank her as well,” Smith said.

Smith said hands-on activities are a main reason why she enjoys teaching FCS courses. Her lesson plans are filled with students sewing materials together, cooking well-balanced meals and figuring out how to create a sustainable budget. Many students have applied that knowledge to projects in their kitchens or living rooms at home.
“It’s always my favorite thing when kids ask for the recipes that we made in class, or when I get an email from their parents and they say, ‘They made this for us when they came home,’” Smith said. “Those kinds of things are always fun to hear.”
Smith said she has learned just as much from her students as they have gained from her. She said it has been encouraging to look back over the past two years and see how she has changed.
“I am a completely different teacher than what I was last year, and I know that next year I’ll be an even more different teacher as I grow,” Smith said. “It’s crazy to look back at last year and think about how I would have handled the situation, and then this year it’s totally different. That growth has been good.”
Hubel said that ability to self-reflect and improve is a good indication of Smith’s potential for future success.
“I am so proud,” Hubel said. “It is no surprise to see Tia doing so well. I have known her for many years and she has a history of success. It is great that she is able to pass on that excellence with middle school students in Lincoln Public Schools.”
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Published: June 17, 2024, Updated: June 17, 2024

Tia Smith smiles in her family and consumer sciences classroom at Scott Middle School. The Nebraska Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NAFCS) honored Smith this spring with the 2024 New Achiever Award. The award recognizes FCS teachers who have shown the potential to make significant contributions to the education profession during their career.