2020 Teacher of the Year:
Chanda Jefferson is a ninth through twelfth grade biology teacher and department chair at Fairfield Central High School in Winnsboro, South Carolina. She is passionate about teaching in underserved communities and building students’ capacity by developing their strengths. Jefferson uses engaging activities to elicit ideas while challenging students to investigate the world around them. She infuses culturally relevant pedagogy, STEM practices, and emotional intelligence strategies to empower students and prepare them for a competitive workforce. Jefferson is an ambassador and advocate for all teachers in South Carolina and serves as the Lead Facilitator of the South Carolina State Teacher Forum. She is also committed to recruiting new teachers by sharing her teaching experiences with hundreds of pre-service teachers throughout the state. Jefferson received many distinguished honors, including the South Carolina Educational Policy Fellowship, in which she collaborates with legislatures and educational stakeholders to develop policy solutions promoting diversity and access in education. She also received the South Carolina Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, the Phi Beta Sigma Lifetime Achievement Award, and was selected for the Princeton Molecular Biology Teacher Institute. In partnership with the National Human Genome Research Institute, Jefferson was granted a proclamation establishing South Carolina DNA Day by the governor of South Carolina, which serves as a day of unity throughout the entire state. Jefferson earned a bachelor of science in biological sciences and a master’s in teaching secondary sciences from the University of South Carolina. Jefferson also earned a master of education in public school building leadership from Columbia University.