Sunday, May 01, 2011

Teacher of the Year 2011

Teacher of the Year is from Maryland
By Valerie Strauss

Michelle Shearer was a pre-med student at Princeton University when, on the verge of burnout, she began volunteering in a class for deaf students. She loved it. That’s when she decided to go into teaching, starting on a path that led her to Frederick County schools and, now, to being named the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.

Shearer grew up with a love of numbers and earned dual certification in chemistry and special education. She has taught all levels of chemistry for 14 years at Urbana and at the Maryland School for the Deaf, where she also taught math.

There Shearer offered, in American Sign Language, a course in advanced placement chemistry for the first time in the institution’s 135-year history. She wrote on her contest application that when she suggested to her students that they also take AP calculus, they asked, “Why?” She signed back, “Because you can.”

Shearer said she is committed to helping children who have traditionally been underrepresented in science, including those with special needs and minorities. She has worked with students with poor vision, dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit disorder and Asperger’s syndrome in her AP chemistry classes.

Shearer plans to spend next year traveling across the country and around the world to promote public education. With the steady drumbeat of negative news about it, she said she will try to make people aware of the many successes in public schools. The Washington Post blog

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