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Teacher of the Year to Speak April 24

Michelle Shearer

Michelle Shearer

Michelle Shearer, 2011 National Teacher of the Year, will speak on “Teaching, Learning and the Power of the Human Factor” on April 24 at 7 p.m. in 233 Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus.

While the Urbana, Md., high school chemistry teacher honed her teaching skills in STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math), the lessons she shares inspire educators of all students, regardless of their age or gifts.

Shearer, who holds dual certification in chemistry and special education, believes there is an aspiring scientist in all students. She makes a concerted effort to reach out to students who have traditionally been underrepresented in scientific fields, including students with disabilities, minorities, and young women.

“Although chemistry can be an ‘intimidating’ subject that is often viewed as difficult for students to grasp, I have always embraced this simple idea: Chemistry is everywhere, and thus chemistry is for everyone. Everyone. Not just college-bound students, students of a particular ethnic group, or even students of a certain age,” says Shearer.

“I have successfully accommodated exceptional students with low vision, dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome into my AP chemistry classroom,” adds Shearer, who previously taught chemistry and mathematics at the Maryland School for the Deaf.

She tells all her students, “You are the chemist. Roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, take pride in the goggle lines on your forehead.”

Shearer’s talk will be followed by a dessert reception. The event is sponsored by Cornell Teacher Education, Ithaca College Department of Education, Cornell Employment and Disability Institute, and Wells College Education Program.

For more information, visit or contact Bryan Duff: or 607-255-8663.

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