Shorter recognized as Woman of the Year



Chinese teacher Lihua Shorter with two of her students. Those that know her call her “loyal” and “someone who cares deeply about peace and justice in the world.”

Eleanor Sherman, Staff Writer

“Tonight I am accepting this award, Woman of the Year, on behalf of everyone on my path. The honor belongs to all of us, men and women,” marked the ending to Chinese teacher and Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) adviser Lihua Shorter’s compelling speech.

The Brookline Commission for Women acknowledged Shorter as Woman of the Year this March to observe National Women’s History Month. Colleagues and students of Shorter believe she is deserving of the award because of her countless contributions to the community.

Shorter had not expected to be honored in such a way and be given the title Woman of the Year. According to Shorter, it all feels slightly weird and strange. She received a call one day and learned she was a nominee.

“A week later, they said congratulations and it didn’t sink in for a while, but it is a tremendous honor to be recognized for the work that we do,” Shorter said.

Shorter, who has worked in Brookline for over two decades, strongly believes that her students and colleagues deserve some of the credit as well.

“If you have worked in this building long enough, you know you don’t do the work alone. It’s really a team effort. It’s not just me; the students have to be on board with me and all of my colleagues,” Shorter said.

World Language Curriculum Coordinator Agnès Albérola, who has known Shorter for 17 years,  nominated Shorter for the award. When Albérola learned that Shorter had won, she was ecstatic.

“She is one of those people who is not likely to boast or put herself in front of a microphone. Yet I know how much work she puts in for the community and for the students without thinking she’s going to be recognized for any of it,” Albérola said.

According to Albérola, Shorter and fellow Chinese teacher Fu-Tseng Chang greatly impact the community with the Lunar New Year celebration they collaborate on and invite the Brookline community to join each year.

“I’ve seen her work with the students and the events she puts together with Mr. Chang,” Albérola said.

Shorter and APAC members have also made it a mission to raise money for the high school’s international trips, in addition to a non-profit organization in Chinatown that preserves Asian American heritage. Furthermore, Shorter has taken the club to Chinatown on a field trip to explore and learn about the history of Asian American immigrants in New England.

“They came back with a very different concept of what Chinatown stands for. They realized the history of the place and also how much effort was directed to preserve that piece of the heritage,” Shorter said.

Albérola recognizes the importance and uniqueness of the Brookline Commission for Women. It is fascinating to her that there is an entire committee devoted to women in Brookline and that women often do not receive deserved recognition. She believes Shorter in particular is deserving because of her desire for change.

“She’s someone who cares deeply about peace and justice in the world,” Albérola said. “She is not afraid to push for changes when they are necessary.”

Sophomore Jackie Gu is a student in Shorter’s Chinese IV Honors class. She is also a member of APAC and was thrilled her Chinese teacher was acknowledged. Gu believes Shorter is a great role model and supporter to her students and APAC members.

“She develops a very motherly relationship with all her students. It makes everybody feel really comfortable. That’s her thing,” Gu said.

Educational Technology Specialist Lisa Francescon has known Shorter for 13 years.

“She’s very loyal. Loyal not only to her friends and colleagues, but also with her students. She has a following of students who even come back after {graduation}, so I think that that’s a tribute to her just having these high expectations and working with them and being an amazing person,” Francescon said.

As she assists Shorter with various lessons regarding technology and videos for Shorter’s classes, Francescon is able to notice her positive qualities.

“Seeing her everywhere, in her classroom, outside of the classroom, she really puts her whole self into taking care of her classes, students, friends and colleagues,” Francescon said.