McDaniel master’s alumna named Maryland’s top teacher

Michelle M. Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Frederick County who earned her master’s degree in Deaf Education at McDaniel, has been named the 2010-2011 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Shearer also holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University and dual certification in chemistry and general special education. She is passionate when it comes to teaching Maryland’s “scientists of the future” and believes chemistry is everywhere, and chemistry is for everyone. Her rewards come from seeing students of all backgrounds and abilities — including those with special needs — connect with science in a personal way.

An eager mentor to new chemistry teachers, Shearer collaborated in developing materials of instruction in the International Baccalaureate Chemistry Program and she served as Content Area Leader in the science department at the Maryland School for the Deaf. She is the recipient of a variety of awards and recognitions that include the Siemens’ Award for AP Teaching, an Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher nominee, and the AP students’ Award of Awesomeness in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of being the best teacher ever.

“Choosing Maryland’s Teacher of the Year is never an easy task for the judging panel, and this year’s nominees were some of our very best. Ms. Shearer has proven to be a leader in our children’s educational journey because she takes the time to explore the best method of learning for each student by building individual relationships with them in her classroom,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick after making the announcement at an Oct. 8 gala honoring top teachers from Maryland’s 24 counties.

Throughout college, Shearer intended to become a scientist but later changed her focus to teaching. Two predominant factors that influenced her to become a teacher were her parents and the students at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton, N.J. Until their retirements, her mother, Beverly Meredith, was an elementary school music teacher, and her father, 1966 McDaniel alumnus Philip Meredith, was a DuPont chemist. Both emphasized the value of education and held teachers in the highest regard.

Among those Shearer thanked in her acceptance speech were McDaniel alumni Kathy Campagnoli ’82, who is principal of Urbana High School, and close family friend Jim Lightner ’59, who is a McDaniel trustee, professor of mathematics emeritus and college historian.

Shearer’s work encouraging and teaching deaf children was also a strong influence on her decision to pursue teaching. Shearer says she has found her life’s true passion and can’t think of a more enriching profession.

“My teaching philosophy is based on the belief that an educator’s strong positive connection with students is essential to their academic success,” Shearer said. “When students feel that a teacher is genuinely invested in their progress, they become eager to invest in themselves and take ownership of their educational efforts. The classroom is my mirror, so the energy my students display reflects what they see in me. I am honored to be a part of the image.”

Watch a video of the announcement and Michelle Shearer’s acceptance speech.

Source: McDaniel College

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