Nancy Malafatopoulos, of Fairfield Warde High School, has been named the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) 2010 National Teacher of the Year. A representative from Goodheart-Willcox Publisher will recognize Malafatopoulos as the National Teacher of the Year at the AAFCS 101st Annual Conference & Expo in Cleveland, Ohio, this June.

Malafatopoulos will receive a commemorative plaque, $2,500, and $1,000 towards one year of membership and participation in the Annual Conference & Expo.

The AAFCS National Teacher of the Year award honors exemplary teachers who utilize cutting-edge methods, techniques, and activities to provide the stimulus for and give visibility to family and consumer sciences (FCS) elementary and secondary education. Each AAFCS affiliate selects its Teacher of the Year and the winning affiliate entries are submitted to AAFCS for the national competition. From the Affiliate Teachers of the Year, up to three merit finalists and one National Teacher of the Year are selected.

The National Teacher of the Year nominations are evaluated based upon the following criteria: integration of FCS with the core academics and educational standards; exemplary level of professional commitment to FCS; goals and outcomes of the program; sustainability of the program; creativity, innovation, and progressive techniques in the program; ability to sustain funding and overcome obstacles or challenges; positive influence on the lives of students; relevancy and timely impact on the students, school, and community; and increasing the visibility, recognition, and support of the FCS profession within the community.

"I cannot begin to tell you what an honor it is to be recognized as the AAFCS National Teacher of the Year. But I can hardly take all the credit for this award because my students over my 20+ years of teaching should be recognized as much as I am," said Malafatopoulos. "They are my fuel and my inspiration in every educational endeavor I pursue. I feel blessed to have an educational career in family and consumer sciences that brings such enjoyment and challenge to me professionally and personally every day of my life."

In 2006, Malafatopoulos' high school fashion students were invited to participate in the town's annual Earth Day activities. After she kiddingly responded, "Like turn trash into fashion?" the idea took off from there. Her students embraced the concept and Malafatopoulos incorporated the "Trash + Fashion = Trashion" unit into her Fashion 20 class for second-year students. Now in its fourth year with the "Trashion" unit, the class has seen a 50 percent increase in enrollment.

One major goal of the unit is to create a wearable garment using recycled materials, such as trash bags, newspapers, bubble wrap, and candy wrappers. Students must reach out to the school and community to collect the materials for their garments and use math, science, and ingenuity to make the recycled materials usable and design the garment. Students use geometry, such as tessellation, line, and form, during the design process.

Science skills are demonstrated through material manipulation and the bonding and dying of resources. During the unit, the high school students also mentor elementary school students by teaching them how to turn trash into fashion.

In Malafatopoulos' class, students are not only developing their creativity and fashion design skills, they are helping to raise awareness about the importance of reusing and recycling materials to help the environment. To reach their peers, students display their finished garments with descriptive cards around the school as a daily reminder to reuse and recycle.

To reach the community, high school and elementary students walk the runway in their creations during the highly anticipated "Trashy Fashion Show" at the town's Earth Day. As people watch the show, they hear recycling facts related to each piece of clothing.

This year's show will take place on May 8 at 10:30 and 11:50 a.m. at Fairfield Warde High School.

Dana Finkle, former Fashion 20 student, summed it up, "I believe if there was any woman who truly deserves to be recognized for all of her achievements above and beyond her job, she is Ms. Malafatopoulos."

Malafatopoulos is a Stratford resident and member of AAFCS, Connecticut Association of Family & Consumer Sciences, National Education Association, and Fairfield Warde High School Parent Teacher Association.

In addition to teaching, Malafatopoulos serves as summer school principal and FCS department chair and liaison with responsibility for 13 curricula.

She is also a Family, Career and Community Leaders of America advisor, Fashion Club advisor, Carl D. Perkins Advisory and Planning Board member, Assessment Committee co-chair for the New England Accreditation of Secondary Schools and Colleges, and student teacher adviser.

In 2009, Malafatopoulos received the PTA Administrative Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership to teachers on a path towards administrative certification.

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, AAFCS is the only professional association for family and consumer sciences students and professionals from both multiple practice settings and content areas.