"Education at any level is a dynamic responsibility because children of all ages are complex human beings with dreams, goals, talents, flaws and needs," Michelle Shearer, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, told University of Delaware education students during an awards ceremony May 7 at the Trabant University Center.
Shearer, a high school chemistry teacher from Frederick, Md., said she believes that everyone with a stake in the success of students must always be conscious of their profound power as people to influence the lives of children. Her teaching philosophy is based on the belief that an educator's strong positive connection with students is essential to their academic success.
Shearer said she has found that when students feel that a teacher is genuinely invested in their progress, they become eager to invest in themselves and take ownership of their educational efforts.
"America's education system may search for a novel strategy or technological advancement to ensure academic success for all learners, yet what students most need is to experience positive rapport, high energy and high morale within every classroom," explained Shearer. "Much of that is gained through interaction with a teacher who understands that human beings are the ultimate inspiration for passionate, productive, life-long learning."
Kammas Murphy, a UD chemistry education major with a minor in physics, was overwhelmed by the presentation. "Mrs. Shearer was clearly an amazing teacher. In 45 minutes she was able to motivate us to become more effective and passionate teachers. Chemistry is not an easy subject to teach, and I am completely aware of how quickly students want to give up," Murphy said. "Her dedication and motivation really helped to light the path for what will be my future."
Erin Grace, an Honors Program student and physics education major, agreed, saying, "I was inspired by Michelle Shearer's talk. I liked that she didn't sugarcoat things. Overall, it was the perfect mix of inspiration, realism and comedy."
Following Shearer's presentation, the University Council on Teacher Education (UCTE) presented its 2012 University-wide professional education awards. These awards are presented to UD teacher education students who are recognized for their excellence in teaching.
Delta Kappa Gamma Award (Alpha Chapter)
Presented to one full-time female freshman, sophomore, junior and senior enrolled in a teacher education program and is based upon outstanding scholarship and active participation in educationally related activities.
Freshman -- Rebecca Vitelli (early childhood education)
Sophomore -- Megan Byrne (elementary education)
Junior -- Jennifer Ferris (social studies education)
Senior -- Julia Coleman (social studies education)
Delaware Association of School Administrators Award
Presented to a graduating senior in a teacher education program who has demonstrated outstanding qualities of scholarship, leadership and character and who gives promise of making a meaningful contribution to the teaching profession.
Taria Pritchett (English education)
Phi Delta Kappa Award
Presented by the Delaware Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa to an undergraduate teacher education senior who shows evidence and promise of excellence in educational research.
Rebecca Godwin (early childhood education)
Sharline Derosier (elementary education)
Delaware Retired School Personnel Association Award
Presented to a junior in a teacher education major, a Delaware resident who has graduated from a Delaware public school, who has demonstrated outstanding qualities of scholarship and character.
Cosimo Faella (English education)
Secondary Education Award for Educational Promise
Presented to a panel of students who have demonstrated exceptional potential as future educators. These students have exhibited excellent understanding about diverse groups of adolescent learners, professional dispositions, and promising teaching practices.
Meghan Scully (music education – vocal/general)
Kelly Kimpton (mathematics education)
Lauren DeMicco (Earth sciences education)
Cosimo Faella (English education)
Allison Gerni (history education)
Recognition of Outstanding Student Teachers
For outstanding student teachers who have demonstrated exceptional skill developing rapport with children, planning lessons, and incorporating new ideas into teaching practice.
Ahren Lewis (early childhood)
Meghan McLean (early childhood)
Megan Nixon (instrumental music)
Jennifer Lyman (MPCP)
Deborah Franklin Feingold (teaching English as second language)
Cera Babb (music education – secondary choral)
Brittany Tanis (music education – general/vocal)
Monica Vilacha (foreign language – Spanish)
Sara Lemar (science education – physics)
Caroline Volker (health and physical education)
Secondary Education Awards
Jessica Torres (agriculture education)
Rebekah Albano, Tyler Brown, Gina Getrajdman, Melissa Schultz, Casey Tarrant (English education)
Dana Corasaniti (foreign language education)
Rachelle Bull, Sara Ann Gartland (mathematics education)
Sara LeMar (science education)
Caitlynn Coster, Lindsey Melvin, Alexandra Roberts, Lindsay Tietze (social studies education)