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Michelle M. Shearer, Maryland and National Teacher of the Year 2011

Policy, Practice


Michelle M. Shearer, Maryland and National Teacher of the Year 2011

Since my first classroom experience as a volunteer at the New Jersey School for the Deaf during my college years, I  have known that teaching is my passion.  I believe that chemistry is everywhere, and thus chemistry is for everyone.

It is my professional mission to cast the widest net and create a high-energy classroom environment in which students of all abilities, including those with special needs, can succeed in learning advanced science and mathematics.  Over the past five years, enrollment in AP chemistry has increased eight-fold as a diverse group of students embraces challenging coursework to prepare a for college and careers.

But if you ask me, “What do you teach?”  don’t expect to receive the one-word answer:  “Chemistry.”   The daily agenda in chemistry class includes problem-solving, laboratory experiments, creative projects, study strategies, “pep talks,” words of wisdom, and inspiration for personal empowerment.

Chemistry is simply the vehicle through which students learn the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind necessary to succeed in school, the workplace, and in life.


Michelle Shearer currently teaches Advanced Placement chemistry to tenth through twelfth grade students at Urbana High School in Frederick County.  She  earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University and a master’s degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College.  A sixteen-year veteran in Maryland’s public schools, Mrs. Shearer effectively includes students in her classes who have traditionally been under-represented in scientific fields.

Fluent in American Sign Language and certified in special education, she has taught all levels of chemistry at Urbana High School and the Maryland School for the Deaf.  Mrs. Shearer is the 2009 Maryland recipient of the Siemens Award for AP Teaching, the 2011 Maryland Teacher of the Year, and the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.



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