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National Teacher of the Year: “Open the doors to your classrooms”

Maryland chemistry teacher addresses 8,000+ educators at NEA’s convention

CHICAGO - July 05, 2011 -

Before a crowd of more than 9,000 fellow educators gathered at the National Education Association’s (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA), 2011 National Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer delivered captivating, moving and inspirational words about the power teachers have to shape and transform the lives of their students. 

Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md., urged NEA delegates to stand strong for their students despite the current dialogue surrounding public education.  She also told them to “open the doors.  Let people see the amazing work students do in our classrooms. Bring the public into public education.”

Shearer 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.

 “Michelle is a living example of how educators can engage and excite students to become curious, enthusiastic, life-long learners,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “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.”

During her speech, Shearer encouraged educators to “give a pep talk.  Share inspiring stories.  Pose challenging, thought-provoking questions. Steer the conversation about public education in a positive direction.  Connect with students and breathe life into the classroom…even as you gasp for air yourself.”

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama honored Shearer for her exemplary teaching style, achievements and accomplishments during a White House ceremony. Shearer was awarded the prestigious title of National Teacher of the Year 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. 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.

Nearly 8,000 educators from every state are in Chicago for NEA’s RA, which runs through July 5.  The RA is the top decision-making body for the 3.2 million-member NEA.  Delegates set Association policy and address issues facing schools, students, and the teaching profession.

Photos from Michelle Shearer’s address are available by visiting
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional 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: Christiana Campos  (202) 251-5954,