Andover native Jeffrey Shea, a social studies teacher at Belmont High School, has added a new title to his name — that of Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.
He received the state’s top education award through the annual program that recognizes the dedication, commitment and positive contributions of the commonwealth’s educators.
Shea, who now lives in Arlington, is the state’s 53rd recipient of the award and automatically becomes a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award.
The Andover High School graduate credits his mother, who started a substance abuse library in Lawrence, with being the first person to teach him about social justice. However, he says it wasn’t until he 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.
He went on to earn a master of education degree from Endicott College in Beverly and the College for International Studies in Madrid and a doctor of education degree from Northeastern University in Boston.
In 2009, Shea joined the staff at Belmont High School, where he is known as a meticulous planner who varies his lessons with different approaches and technology. He also asks students each year for advice on how to make his classes interesting.
In 2012, Shea was instrumental in developing 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.
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 Belmont High. His students have done video conferences with classrooms in Jordan, visited the Boston office of the global nonprofit 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.