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Press Release

Monday, May 02, 2011

Maryland High School Chemistry Teacher Named 2011 National Teacher of the Year

Contact:Kate Dandokated@ccsso.org202-336-7034

The Council of Chief State School Officers announced today that Michelle Shearer, a high school chemistry teacher in Frederick, Maryland, is the 61st National Teacher of the Year. Shearer and all of the 2011 State Teachers of the Year will be recognized by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House Tuesday, May 3.

Shearer currently teaches Advanced Placement Chemistry at Urbana High School in the Frederick County Public Schools system. In her 10 years at Urbana High School, she has taught all levels of Chemistry. Previously, she taught high school chemistry and mathematics at the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick.

"Michelle Shearer's passion for teaching and dynamic skill set provides a foundation to truly enhance student learning," said CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit. "As National Teacher of the Year, Michelle will inspire educators across the country to embrace innovation and prepare their students to live and work in the 21st century."

"This is a tremendous honor, an incredible opportunity for me to advocate for students, represent teachers, and draw positive attention to our collective efforts in public education," said Michelle Shearer.
Shearer embraces technological innovation in the classroom, but emphasizes the importance of teacher-student interaction. "Technology and teaching strategies certainly enhance my efforts, but my recognition of the power of human connection seems to have the most profound effect on my students' achievement, especially those who doubt their ability to succeed in challenging college-level science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses such as Advanced Placement Chemistry," Shearer said.

Shearer is an advocate for STEM education for all K-12 students and successfully reaches those who have been traditionally underrepresented in scientific fields, including students with special needs and those from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Her teaching methods rely heavily on real-life applications of scientific concepts. "When students feel connected not only to the teacher but to the subject itself," she says, "they quickly become eager to explore."

Her methods have a powerful impact on her learners. Derrick Williams, a former student at the Maryland School for the Deaf, says, "Mrs. Shearer has the passion and the drive to ensure that each individual in the classroom has a precise understanding of the content she is teaching and her classes are structurally built for nothing else but success."
"Michelle believes passionately in her students, and works tirelessly to help each of them to achieve at their highest possible level, making her an outstanding choice for this honor," said Maryland State

Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "We are proud to have her represent our State and this profession, and we are grateful to her students for allowing the nation to borrow her for the next year."
The other 2011 National Teacher of the Year finalists are Annice Brave, a high school English and journalism teacher at Alton High School in Alton, Illinois; Cheryl Conley, a fourth grade teacher at Osceola Magnet Elementary School in Vero Beach, Florida; and Paul Andersen, a ninth through twelfth grade biology teacher at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Montana.

A committee of representatives from 14 national education organizations chose the 2011 National Teacher of the Year from among the 2011 state teachers of the year. State teachers of the year are selected on the basis of nominations by students, teachers, principals, and school district administrators throughout the states. Applications are then submitted to CCSSO, where the national selection committee reviews the data on each state candidate and selects the four finalists. The selection committee then personally interviews each finalist before naming the National Teacher of the Year.

To view a press kit with Michelle Shearer's National Teacher of the Year application, additional information about the National Teacher of the Year program and quotes of support, click here.