Teacher of the Year finalist Shakeeda Bartee inspires students despite MS diagnosis

Shakeeda Bartee

Shakeeda Bartee

Age: 31

Community: Boston

Her story: Shakeeda Bartee teaches sixth grade at a public school in Boston. It’s the same district her children attend and the same district where she went to school.

Bartee joined the district in 2017 after leaving a job at a local needle exchange program. She wanted to work with young people to try to reduce harm before they felt like they needed to turn to drugs.

For her, middle school was a crucial time, and her role as an English language arts teacher has her advocating for families, students and other teachers.

Bartee was selected as one of four finalists for the 2023 Teacher of the Year and has graduated from the Emerge program, which is dedicated to teaching women how to lead in the political realm.

Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative disease, Bartee has been inspired to advocate louder and bolder, she said.

As a teacher, she prioritizes anti-racist practices, and has her sights on elected office.

“I hope to one day go into politics because I know that many of the inequities my community faces can only be changed with good policy,” she said. “Until then, I try every day to instill values in my students that I hope will equip them to be change-makers themselves.”

In her words: “In education, it’s so easy to become tired, so easy to become burnt out. But for the sake of the students and more importantly you, it’s imperative to rest and take care of yourself. Our students deserve great educators and we can only be great if we care about ourselves as much as we care about them.”