Sydney Chaffee, 2017 National Teacher of the Year
As Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee is committed to taking risks for her students and, as National Teacher of the Year, encouraged all educators to take risks – on their students, on each other and on themselves. As a humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Boston, Sydney takes risks every day to improve learning for all of her students. In the classroom, she strives to create lessons that demonstrate how education can be a transformative tool for social justice, and she encourages her students to see themselves as having the power to make change in the world based on lessons from the past. She tries to infuse the hard work of learning with joy, not only in her classroom but throughout the school. For example, she is the coordinator of a schoolwide Community Circle every Thursday where all students in the school come together to celebrate successes, share good news and dig into serious conversations together. As 2017 National Teacher of the Year, she was able to speak to a wider audience about the value of public education for all students, the possibilities of integrating arts education into traditional academic disciplines, the importance of teacher learning, and the role of education in social justice movements. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters of Education from Lesley University. Sydney is a National Board Certified Teacher.