- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BELMONT, Mass. (AP) - A standout social studies teacher at a high school outside Boston has been awarded Massachusetts Teacher of the Year for 2015 for his dedication to the profession.

Jeffrey Shea, who has taught at Belmont High School for five years, said he was humbled by the recognition, announced on National Teacher Appreciation Day.

“The students are the reason why I teach,” said Shea, who was given a standing ovation by students and faculty members at a school assembly on Tuesday. “I love my job and try to bring my passion and joy for the profession into the classroom.”

Shea, of Arlington, is committed to improving the students’ experiences and constantly upgrading his understanding and skills, said Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“I interviewed Jeff last week, and we have lots of outstanding teachers in the Commonwealth, but he really stood out,” Chester said by telephone. “It is not a job for him. It really is a passion.”

Shea is known by his colleagues as a meticulous planner who constantly asks for students’ input on how to make his lectures more engaging and informative. He tries to incorporate technology into his lesson plans, including helping to develop an iPad pilot initiative at the school in 2012. He also encourages students to be civically involved and engaged in global issues.

Teachers are nominated for the top state educator award in the fall by faculty members, students and parents, and the nominations then undergo an extensive multistep review process until a winner is chosen. Shea is now in the running for the National Teacher of the Year award.

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