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NEA member named 2011 National Teacher of the Year

Maryland chemistry teacher Michelle Shearer honored at White House ceremony

WASHINGTON - May 03, 2011 -

NEA member and teacher Michelle Shearer was named the 2011 National Teacher of the Year by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony today. Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md., was awarded the prestigious title because of her commitment to helping children who have traditionally been underrepresented in science and for her innovative approaches to technology and teacher-student interactions in the classroom. She will serve for one year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for public education.

“On behalf of NEA and its 3.2 million members, I congratulate Michelle Shearer on being named National Teacher of the Year,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We are so proud and honored to represent Michelle.   She is a great example of how teachers transform the lives of their students every day, engaging them and creating enthusiasm for learning. Michelle’s extraordinary passion, professionalism, and never-ending search to find captivating ways of teaching science have inspired her students to realize their potential and achieve their dreams.”

According to Shearer, “there is an aspiring scientist in all of us.” She said she captures students’ attention by making real-life connections to scientific theories. She has worked with students with poor vision, attention deficit disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, and also has taught a course in advanced placement chemistry in American Sign Language at the Maryland School for the Deaf.   

Shearer received her B.A. in Chemistry from Princeton University and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She also attended the Graduate Program in Deaf Education at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and received her M.S. in Deaf Education at McDaniel College in Maryland.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced the four finalists for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year in January. In addition to Shearer, they included: Annice Brave, a high school English and journalism teacher at Alton High School in Alton, Ill.; Cheryl Conley, a fourth grade teacher at Osceola Magnet Elementary School in Vero Beach, Fla.; and Paul Andersen, a ninth through twelfth grade biology teacher at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Mont. All four finalists are NEA members.

“We are extremely proud to have our second national teacher of the year in five years from Maryland, and we applaud Michelle Shearer on this tremendous accomplishment,” said Maryland State Education Association President Clara Floyd. “As we pause to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, it is a wonderful moment to show appreciation to an educator whose deep, meaningful impact has been recognized in Frederick County, the state of Maryland, and now the entire nation.”

 The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of CCSSO in partnership with University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador Programs.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,