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Academy High School science teacher named Air & Space Forces Association Colorado Teacher of the Year

Academy High School science teacher Mellissa Pfaff was just selected as the Air & Space Forces Association (AFA) Colorado State Teacher of the Year! The organization chose Pfaff for her efforts to excite her students about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and for “preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies to address the issues and needs of Colorado and the nation.” The state AFA chapter will recognize Pfaff at their annual awards banquet on Saturday, August 19, and this fall at Academy, in front of her students and peers.    

“This was a complete shock and I feel so honored to be recognized,” she said. “I have always loved air and space and love sharing my passion with my students.” 

Pfaff has taught science for 20 years, the last 10 of which in Mapleton. When she teaches chemistry, she incorporates space into most of her lessons. She also helps teach space science to the district’s Air Force JROTC program, is a Space Foundation International Teacher Liaison, and recently taught a rocket chemistry class at the Space Exploration Educators Conference, at the NASA Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Further, she strives to expose her students to careers in the space industry, which continues to grow in Colorado.  

With her new title, she will help write standards-based curriculum for students nationwide, collaborating with other state Teachers of the Year, and represent Colorado at AFA meetings. She will also mentor other teachers and work with the AFA to engage more students in aerospace science.  

And her AFA competition days aren’t over. The Colorado chapter will work with Pfaff to prepare her for the 2024 AFA National Teacher of the Year competition. 

The AFA is a national nonprofit, civilian education organization that promotes U.S. Air and Space Forces as the foundation of a strong national defense and supports their professionals.