Matthew Shea, Coordinator of Student Achievement in RSU 2, was selected by the Maine Curriculum Leaders’ Association as the 2018 Curriculum Leader of the Year. Matt was nominated by his superintendent, Bill Zima and by curriculum leaders outside his district. “Matt definitely falls into the category of one of the best administrators I have had the pleasure to work with,” Zima said. “His ability to vision, communicate his ideas, gather and listen to feedback, and then guide adjustments based on that feedback, are skills I deem necessary for any leader. He can take any teacher, regardless of their current level of performance, and move them forward in their acquisition of sufficient knowledge and skills of the best practices so they are ready to support every learner with what that learner needs.”
Matt’s curriculum colleagues admire his passionate advocacy for personalized learning and his commitment to help other educators learn. He frequently leads learning opportunities across Maine and nationally. He and RSU 2 Instructional Coach Courtney Belolan host the nationally-recognized podcast “Personalized Learning with Matt and Courtney”, described as “engaging, hilarious, and thought-provoking” by listeners.
Matt’s colleagues cite his ability to “see a really big picture of learner-centered proficiency-based education — one that includes state and federal policy, as well as district, school, and classroom level elements” and his leadership in translating that big picture into the tenets underpinning all the personalized learning work in RSU 2. “We needed something to coalesce around,” Matt said. “Having these tenets gives everyone a central focus for the work. It drives the conversation with teachers, parents, and kids.”
Matt came late to education. He graduated from college with a teaching credential but didn’t use it for 15 years. Instead, he worked in retail businesses, learning how to listen and respond to all kinds of people. When his children reached school age he decided to teach, beginning his high school teaching career in Lisbon. He moved to RSU 2 as it began the transition to a standards-based system. Fellow teachers urged him to apply for the curriculum leadership position and he did, wanting to make a difference for more students. “Instead of impacting just the 120 students in my classes,” he said, “I wanted to impact 2000.” His colleagues know Matt cares about all students. Stakeholders know he will listen and work with them to create the best schools possible for all learners. “It’s always better to get people around the table,” he said. “Even when we disagree.”