Who's Who of Professional Women


Joanne Romeo-Schaffer

An expert in many areas of mathematics, Joanne J. Marino Romeo-Schaffer has to be very clear in her description of what she is going to do and why, because there is no sense in teaching anything to students if there is not an everyday principle that they can use it for. That notion goes up to different equations in college. It is also sometimes elementary and seventh through eighth grade mathematics, so it covers the whole broad stream of the subject. Her teaching is clear and has examples on how it can be used in everyday life. Ms. Romeo-Schaffer believes there have been studies done that show a relationship between reading and success in mathematics, including word problems.

Ms. Romeo-Schaffer began her professional career as a substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio, in 1964, joining the Hamilton School District the following year as a teacher of geometry, mathematics, and French. She then served as a teacher for gifted children at Bluegrass Elementary School in Knoxville, Tennessee, for one year and a French teacher for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s summer program for children in grades one through junior high school from 1977 to 1979. Following this, she was a mathematics and science teacher and developer of the computer science program at the Webb School from 1977 to 1985, headmistress at Greenbrier Academy in Sevierville, Tennessee, from 1985 to 1986, and director of religious education at Sacred Heart Parish from 1987 to 2001. Most recently, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer worked as an advanced mathematics teacher at Knox County School from 2000 to 2002 and a mathematics educator and department chairman at Washburn High School from 2004 to 2014. Since 1986, she has continued to instruct mathematics at Pellissippi State Community College.

Prior to the start of her professional career, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer pursued a formal education at Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in 1965, the first person and woman to do so on either side of her family. She then attended Youngstown State University, completing postgraduate coursework between 1969 to 1970. She went on to matriculate at Purdue University, where she obtained a Master of Science in 1974, and complete additional postgraduate coursework in computer science at the University of Tennessee from 1982 to 1991. In addition to these academic honors, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer is certified to teach mathematics to grades seven to differential equations in second-year college in the states of Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee, as well as French I and II.

A delegate of the National Catholic Educational Association/Ministries of Education in Russia and Lithuania, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer has participated in many endeavors outside of her primary trade. Active in her local community, she served Sacred Heart Parish as volunteer director of religious education from 1979 to 1987 and lay pastoral minister from 1988 to 2001. She also helped organize a display of students’ work at Farragut High School and Washburn High School, both in Tennessee.

In order to stay updated on trends in her field, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer has been a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, as well myriad other related organizations. She has maintained involvement with the National Council on Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council on Parish and Religious Coordinators and Directors, the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Executive Females, among many others.

The recipient of a $6,000 grant, Ms. Romeo-Schaffer resides in Tennessee with her loving husband, Harwood D. Schaffer, and is the proud mother of three wonderful children, Christopher, Chrisanne, and Jonathan. She is additionally a doting grandmother to two beloved granddaughters, Dominique and Isabella. Ms. Romeo-Schaffer has been known to enjoy reading, cross-stitching, knitting, sewing, and exercising in her spare time.

Ms. Romeo-Schaffer would like to be remembered by each student as someone that was tough, but fair and willing to do the work with them. She did not do the work for them, but with them because she sympathizes with students with problems. What continues to motivate Ms. Romeo-Schaffer is seeing students learn and the look on their face when they get it. She loves the confidence when she asks questions, when they answer or attempt to answer.

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