BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The new school year is little more than a week old, but the Bloomfield High School social studies department is already winning awards.
Shamshadeen Mayers, who teaches Advanced Placement United States history and Advanced Placement comparative government and politics at BHS, won the Teacher of the Year Award from the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies for 2021-2022 school year. A teacher at BHS since 2016, Mayers is also a native of Bloomfield and a graduate of the high school.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Mayers said about the award in a phone interview with The Independent Press on Sept. 11. “It was nice to win.”
A teacher since 2008, Mayers started his career in the New York City Teaching Fellows program, teaching elementary school students, and eventually moved on to teach middle school. By the time he jumped back to his home side of the Hudson River to BHS, he’d taught students of all ages between second grade and high school seniors.
“I love working with all kids,” Mayers said. “Working in the city gave me a different perspective. It’s a different pace, everything in New York is fast and students see more there. But I love the community here and working where I’m from.”
BHS is happy to have him. Scott Orlovsky, the Bloomfield School District’s supervisor of social studies, world languages and English-language learning, nominated Mayers for the award, after considering each social studies teacher in the district. Orlovsky wrote a letter recommending Mayers for the award, as did a former student and another teacher.
“He’s an outstanding teacher but also a good citizen who does so many extracurriculars,” Orlovsky said in a phone interview with The Independent Press on Sept. 10. “And he not only does those things, he excels at them.”
Mayers serves as the adviser to the Red Cross Club and the Academic Bowl team at BHS, and is a member of the Diversity Council. He serves on the board of the United Way of Bloomfield and is a pastor at City on the Hill Church in Bloomfield, in addition to coaching the second- and third-grade soccer team for the Bloomfield Soccer Club.
Orlovsky isn’t the only one who is impressed with Mayers. Last year’s leadership class students made a video about the teacher who had had the largest impact on them, and their subject was Mayers.
“It wasn’t just me — those students were naming him as their favorite,” Orlovsky said. “They overwhelmingly chose him.”
Mayers teaches sophomores, for the most part, so they’re not yet old enough to vote. But as a person who’s been interested in politics since he was in high school himself, he makes sure they know how to vote when they turn 18 and what they can do before then.
“We talk about how they can be good citizens, whether it’s by voting or not,” he said. “Public policy will affect their lives whether they’re politicians or a history teacher.”
One of Mayers’ long-term goals is to become a principal; he’s in the middle of getting the certification now. This past summer he worked at an enrichment program in the Ironbound section of Newark and was in charge of a team of teachers.
“That was a great experience, especially since I want to be a principal,” he said. “I’m really passionate about literacy and making sure students reach their goals.”