Belmont educator named Teacher of the Year

2015 Teacher of the Year, Dr. Jeffrey Shea Dr. Jeffrey Shea with his global leadership class before the Teacher of the Year ceremony.

Dr. Jeffrey Shea, a social studies teacher at Belmont High School, has been named the 2015 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester presented the award on May 6, National Teacher Day.

The announcement was greeted by raucous applause from packed stands full of students, fellow teachers and dignitaries. The event was held in the field house at the high school.

Before the presentation, students had covered the walls of the field house with brightly colored banners in Shea’s honor.

Belmont School Superintendent Thomas Kingston said he has visited Shea’s classroom several times and witnessed the extent to which Shea “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,” Kingston said.

Shea challenges the 11th- and 12th-graders in his global leadership course to examine human rights and other issues from several perspectives, and he has traveled with his students to Costa Rica to help them broaden their understanding of what other nations are facing.

Chester pointed to Shea’s “commitment to ensuring that each of his students is prepared for success after high school as lifelong learners and citizens of a global economy.” He lauded Shea as “smart and savvy, reflective, and someone who takes his teaching career quite seriously.”

Shea said he looks at the award “not so much as a personal award, but as a reflection of the strength of our community.”

He thanked the parents of Belmont for their commitment to their children’s education. Addressing the hundreds of students, he said, “Your trait of curiosity will lead you to many successes.”

He paid particular tribute to his fellow educators, leading a round of applause for those “who help me to improve every day.”

Jackson Haight, one of Shea’s global leadership students, said he has “never had a teacher who spent so much time with his work.” Another student, Lucy Mitchell, said she had taken classes with Shea in the past and took his global leadership course this year “because he was the teacher.”

“He really, really inspired me to be someone who is passionate and cares a lot about what I’m learning,” she said.

Shea is a graduate of Andover High School and Tulane University. He holds a master of education degree from Endicott College and the College of International Studies in Madrid, as well as a doctor of education degree from Northeastern University.

As the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Shea is automatically a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.

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