Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 15, 2014

Andover native named state's top teacher

Shea singled out for work at Belmont High School


The Andover Townsman

---- — 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.

“(Shea) 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,” Belmont High School Principal Daniel Richards wrote in his letter of recommendation.

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 Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.

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 Statehouse next month.