State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Fairfield Central High School teacher, Chanda Jefferson, at her school today with news that she has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
“Chanda is an exceptional educator who has not only worked to ensure her own students are successful but has also given of her time and energy so that students across our state have high quality Biology opportunities,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “Chanda's commitment to increasing the rigor in both her classroom and classrooms across South Carolina should be commended.”
Chanda Jefferson is a ninth through twelfth grade Biology teacher at Fairfield Central High School in the Fairfield County School District. She has worked on both the local and state levels to increase student performance and rigor of the South Carolina Biology I End-of-Course exam. In 2014, Chanda received the Outstanding Biology Teacher for South Carolina Award presented by the National Association of Biology Teachers. She was one of twenty teachers to receive the Princeton University Fellowship for Teachers and one of three teachers to receive the Amazon Educator Academy Scholarship. Harvard University invited Chanda to be a guest speaker for the 74th Annual Society of Development Biology Conference.
Outside of the classroom, Chanda has served as an Education Network Partner for the National Human Genome Research Institute, helping to plan a National DNA Day Celebration in South Carolina. Chanda grew up in a single parent home and originally wanted to study pre-medicine so that she could become a doctor and take care of her family. Her plans changed during her third year of college when she took an after school part-time job as an elementary “Mad Science” teacher. This experience coupled with the positive impact her own teachers made on her life inspired her to listen to her call to teach. She believes that “all students can learn science,” and for students to learn, she must exhibit that science is part of their everyday life experience. She caters to each student’s individual learning style and uses hands on activities; incorporating social media, scientific modeling, inquiry, and STEM techniques in her lessons.
As one of five finalists, Chanda will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held on May 8th in Columbia where the overall winner will be crowned.
The winner receives a total of $25,000 and is provided with a brand new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 50,000 educators.
The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on the district, state, and national level. The Teacher of the Year Awards not only assists in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.
Tickets to the Teacher of the Year Gala can be purchased here.