Teacher Feature: Mrs. Saenz
Family & Consumer Sciences teacher Mrs. Katie Saenz provides commentary on her love for teaching and interests both inside and outside of school
Mrs. Katie Saenz is a Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher here at Mead High. She’s been teaching for 15 total years, 12 of which have been at MHS, and she’s been helping Mead students learn life skills since the school opened in 2009.
Mrs. Saenz previously taught Career Pathways and currently teaches Culinary Nutrition, Food Science 2, Relationships, Living On Your Own, and Parent Child Development. She also manages the Mead High FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) Program. Unfortunately, she will no longer offer Living On Your Own or Food Science 2 next school year (2021-2022), but she will be introducing two new courses in their place: the CTE Capstone course and the Education Exploration course.
Though students enjoy all Mrs. Saenz’s classes, a crowd favorite is Culinary Nutrition. Isaac Quinby (‘21) has taken nearly all of her classes and highly suggests Culinary Nutrition, commenting on how enjoyable the hands-on cooking was.
Mrs. Saenz has always had an interest in school, specifically teaching, and decided in high school that she wanted to work towards becoming a high school math teacher.
“Even when I was little I played school,” she said, explaining that she’d been interested in a future teaching career for most of her life. “I just thought [teaching was] a good fit.”
Though she didn’t intend to teach elementary school or geography, Mrs. Saenz received her first major in Elementary Geography Education and then transferred to Colorado State University (CSU) for her FCS (Family & Consumer Sciences) major. She has a bachelor’s degree, a Master’s in Educational Leadership, and an Administrative License, all from CSU.
Mrs. Saenz was inspired by two of her high school Consumer Family Studies teachers. When she decided on her major at CSU, she said she could see herself teaching on the topics those two teachers did.
Mrs. Saenz is very passionate about FCS. The topics she teaches “fit [her] values system and [her] belief system” and encourage positive traits like empathy.
Her content is also applicable to life. Mrs. Saenz said, “Everything I teach kids will use.” She sees that as a benefit to teaching FCS since students are more likely to remember what they’ve been taught and apply what they learned to their lifestyle. Her students don’t have to wonder the relevance of the information they’re being taught.
Lori Zamora (‘21) is very involved in Mrs. Saenz’s classes and agrees that her lessons include helpful life skills. “I know that whenever I take a class with her, I will be learning something I can use for the rest of my life,” she said.
To Mrs. Saenz, teaching feels less like a job and more like an ongoing open conversation with her students. She loves the “personal part” of her courses and the fact that she’s allowing teenagers to ask life questions they may not be comfortable asking others. She said that being a FCS teacher often means you’re playing the role of a counselor without the degree.
Zamora (‘21) said that Mrs. Saenz “makes the classroom a fun, safe space for her students” and FCCLA President Jessica Wilkinson (‘22) finds Mrs. Saenz “really easy to talk to”.
In addition to becoming a teacher, Mrs. Saenz always had a strong desire to be a parent. Teaching aligned well with that desire — her schedule now matches those of her children, and she has the entirety of the summer off to spend with her family. She said, “There [are] lots of benefits to teaching and having a family… I just felt like the two fit really well.”
Interestingly, Mrs. Saenz’s passion for teaching has changed in a way she never thought it would. She said she wants to “help teenagers be good humans” now, which leads to her emphasizing things like core values in her lessons. Mrs. Saenz explained that having conversations about values “fits with [her] content” and is “relatable and connectable” to FCS, which makes her classroom a comfortable environment for many students to open up.
Through giving advice and forming connections, Mrs. Saenz works to have long lasting impacts on her students. She said, “I want to have that impact… on them and [help] them shape who they wanted to be as a teenager.”
Mrs. Saenz also works to balance the teacher and friend relationship she has with her students. She grew up in Longmont, is connected to the community, and has a family, all of which she wants her students to know to help build personal connections with them and make her classroom a less clinical school environment.
Wilkinson said that “she’s really good at balancing [being a] friend and teacher” and Zamora, a strong believer that personal connection is important in strong teacher and student relationships, believes that her ability to “connect with students on the level that she does… is very beneficial”.
Outside of school, Mrs. Saenz enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, whether that be going on a bike ride, walking outside, or spending time together doing an activity indoors. She loves watching sports (both on TV and in-person) and is excited to be able to resume attending games when it’s appropriate to do so. When she has spare time, Mrs. Saenz turns to a good book or does some cooking.
Students that take classes with Mrs. Saenz agree that she is a remarkable teacher and a wonderful friend. We are so grateful for everything she does and greatly enjoy having here at Mead.