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A high school teacher in Frederick, Maryland has been named 2011 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Michelle Shearer, who teaches chemistry at Urbana High School, will be recognized by President Barack Obama on May 3 for her achievement. Prior to Urbana, Shearer taught chemistry and math at the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick.
"Her methods have a powerful impact on her learners," said one of her former students from the Maryland School for the Deaf, Derrick Williams. At the school, Shearer taught advanced placement classes in calculus and chemistry using American Sign Language.
Shearer says that helping students believe in themselves is a key factor in her success. "Technology and teaching strategies certainly enhance my efforts, but my recognition of the power of human connection seems to have the most profound effect," Shearer said.
Shearer, who has been an educator for the past 14 years, began her career at New Market Middle School in 1997. She taught sixth grade science. In 2006, when she started teaching the AP chemistry program at Urbana, there were just 11 students in the program. Under her guidance, the AP Chemistry program now enrolls 92 kids.
The daughter of an elementary school music teacher and a chemistry Ph.D, Shearer decided to pursue education after volunteering at a school for deaf in Trenton. Part of her graduate studies were at Gaulladet in Washington D.C., where she was in a deaf education program.
Last year, Shearer was named teacher of the year for Frederick County.