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2011 Teacher of the Year
posted by: Colin | May 05, 2011, 06:45 PM   

National Teacher Appreciation Week also coincides with the announcement of the National Teacher of the Year as well as the State Teachers of the Year and the iconic ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. On Tuesday, President Obama honored Ms. Michelle Shearer of Maryland as the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Joining Ms. Shearer were fifty other teachers who were each receiving top honors from their respective states.

Ms. Shearer teaches chemistry at Urbana High School in Urbana, Maryland, about an hour from Washington, D.C. Her interest in teaching began while volunteering at a school for the deaf while a pre-medical student at Princeton University. She then went on to earn a Bachelor's in chemistry and was one of the few Princeton graduates in her class to earn a teaching certification.

Shearer spent four of her 14 classroom years at the Maryland School for the Deaf. There, she was the first teacher to offer Advanced Placement Chemistry in the school's history; amazingly, she conducted the class exclusively in Sign Language.

President Obama said Ms. Shearer represents all teachers who are committed to improving their own skills in order to better educate their students. The President commended Ms. Shearer and her specialty of "taking students that are normally underrepresented in science ... and helping them discover the scientist within."

Interestingly she began teaching AP chemistry in Urbana in the mid 1990's, when only 11 students were enrolled in her class. Under her tenure, there are now 92 students enrolled in the course and approximately 90 percent pass the AP chemistry exam. Ms. Shearer also specializes in accommodating students with learning disabilities, low vision, attention problems, and Asperger's Syndrome in her advanced classes. "It's about getting students to believe in themselves and take ownership," she noted.

Ms. Shearer also had some profound opinions about attracting America's best and brightest to the teaching profession. When asked what should be done to draw in new teachers she said, "We don't share enough of the positive stories. If you sit down with any teacher, they can tell you the great things they're doing. We have to be willing to take the time to listen to those positive stories."

She also commented on the often misguided view that teaching is not impressive enough for the ivy-league crowd. "I'm a Princeton grad, and people like to remind me that I could have done whatever I wanted," she said. "I tell them I'm doing exactly what I want to do."

AAE would like to congratulate Ms. Shearer on her amazing accomplishment! Coincidently, AAE staffer and National Teacher of the Year alumnus, Tracey Bailey, also received the award for innovations in science instruction. This week's announcement is not only great for all teachers but the advancement of the STEM subjects– Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Does Ms. Shearer's story inspire you?
Comment below.

>> Originally posted by Alix on the AAE Blog.
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