Shearer, the daughter of a chemistry teacher and wife of a physics teacher, got into teaching by volunteering with deaf children, the president said. Before joining the faculty at Urbana High School, she offered the first AP chemistry course ever at the Maryland School for the Deaf.
"Michelle's specialty is taking students who are normally underrepresented in science -- minorities, women, students with disabilities, even students who say equations and formulas are just not their thing -- and helping them discover the scientist within," Obama said.
The president also waved to the Hawaiian state teacher, who teaches at his first school, Noelani in Manoa, Hawaii. He spoke of Mabel Hefty, a teacher who helped him when he returned to Hawaii as a fifth grader after several years in Indonesia.
Shearer gave a brief speech thanking Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"Elementary school teachers lay the foundation for a child's academic success," she said. "Middle school teachers engage students with creative instruction and teach the skills students need to become self-sufficient learners. High school teachers empower students to take ownership of their education as they prepare for college and careers."