Patrick Administration Announces 2015 Teacher of the Year
Belmont High School Social Studies Teacher Jeffrey Shea receives state’s top educator award
BELMONT – The Patrick Administration today announced Jeffrey Shea of Belmont High School as the 2015 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program is the state’s top award for educators and annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment, and positive contributions of educators statewide.
State education officials used the occasion of Tuesday’s National Teacher Day to make the announcement. Shea, who lives in Arlington, is the state’s 53rd recipient of this award and automatically becomes the state’s candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Program.
“I know how hard the teachers in Massachusetts work, and I also know we don’t say thank you nearly enough,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “Today we honor Jeffrey Shea and all the teachers across the Commonwealth for a job well done. The work they are doing will make our communities better and stronger for generations to come.”
“Jeff Shea’s commitment to ensuring that each of his students is prepared for success after high school as lifelong learners and citizens in a global economy is spot on,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “I am so pleased to recognize Dr. Shea with this honor that embodies the high standard of educator excellence we see in classrooms across the Commonwealth.”
The selection process for the 2014-15 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year began last fall with a call for nominations from administrators, teachers, students, parents, and others. An initial review of each nominated teacher’s written application led to the selection of semifinalists, who then submitted additional supporting material. Five finalists were selected and interviewed by an independent review panel of experts, including past Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. That panel then recommended one finalist to be named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year by Commissioner Chester.
The other four Teacher of the Year finalists for this year’s award were: Nancy Barile, an English teacher at Revere High School; Rebecca Duda, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Lakeview Junior High School in Dracut; Adam Ingano, an 11th and 12th grade history teacher at Clinton High School; and Daniel Lipton, a second grade teacher at Edward Devotion School in Brookline.
Shea will join other outstanding educators, including the Massachusetts History Teacher of the year, the Milken Family Foundation Award winner for Massachusetts, the finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and Teacher of the Year finalists and semifinalists, for an awards ceremony at the State House on June 12, 2014.
“We are very proud of the high-quality, innovative teachers that have chosen to teach in our system,” said Senator William N. Brownsberger. “As I have visited public schools across Belmont, Watertown and Boston, I have seen lots of great things happening. I’m so glad to see Jeff Shea’s excellent work recognized.”
“On behalf of the entire community, I extend my congratulations to Dr. Jeff Shea for this truly remarkable accomplishment,” said Representative David M. Rogers. “In addition to providing an outstanding educational experience for his students, he also brings well-deserved recognition to the Belmont Public School System, one of the best in the Commonwealth. Dr. Shea reminds us that teachers are some of our finest public servants, deserving of both our profound gratitude and our vigorous support.”
“Dr. Jeffrey Shea exemplifies the best and brightest in the teaching profession,” said Belmont Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Kingston. “I have visited Jeff’s classroom on several occasions and witnessed the extent to which he has been able to inform a comprehensive high school effort to improve delivery of content, instill 21st century learning skills, and elevate the civic engagement of students. Jeff is an outstanding teacher, and we are most pleased to learn that he has been named the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.”
“Students, parents and colleagues find Dr. Shea easy to talk to because he listens carefully and attentively; he speaks after thoughtful consideration and maintains his sense of humor at all times,” Belmont High School Principal Daniel Richards wrote in his letter of recommendation. “He has mentored many troubled students who owe their high school diploma to his willingness to stand behind them, yet hold them accountable for their work and achievement.”
About Jeffrey Shea
Jeffrey Shea grew up in Andover and attended Andover High School. He credits his mother, who started a substance abuse library in Lawrence, with being the first person to teach him about social justice. However, it wasn’t until Shea went to Tulane University in New Orleans that his view of the world expanded. After graduating, he worked in international travel and then as a golf professional before joining Belmont Public Schools as a sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher in 2004. His engaging lessons included one in which a professional aid pretend to be a dying pharaoh while students prepared their “ruler” for the afterlife.
Shea went on to earn a master of education degree from Endicott College and the College for International Studies in Madrid and a doctor of education degree from Northeastern University.
He began teaching at Belmont High School in 2009, and he asks students for advice on how to make his classes interesting each year. He is a meticulous planner who varies his lessons with different approaches and technology. In 2012, Shea was instrumental in the development of the school’s one-to-one iPad initiative through a pilot program supported by the Foundation for Belmont Education. The pilot, based partly on his work, expanded in the current school year.
Shea believes it is his duty to help students look beyond their own lives to consider the lives of others, and he believes doing so also leads to effective teaching and learning.
In addition to American Studies, he teaches global leadership, a course he designed. He also worked with his colleagues to create an interdisciplinary global certificate program at the school. His students have done video conferences with classrooms in Jordan, visited the Boston office of the global non-profit Partners in Health, and run and publicized a screening of “Girl Rising,” a film about obstacles to girls’ education in parts of the developing world.