Sydney Chaffee

Sydney Chaffee

National Teacher of the Year
Codman Academy Charter Public School

Sydney Chaffee is a National Board Certified Teacher passionate about helping diverse learners grow through authentic, relevant, interdisciplinary curricula. As the ninth grade Humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School, an EL Education school, Chaffee strives to infuse the hard work of learning with joy. She believes that all students can learn with appropriate supports and challenges, and that education is a transformative tool for social justice.

“[Education] can empower students to stand up for themselves and create change.” Chaffee wrote in her National Teacher of Year application. “It can only do this, however, if teachers like me hold ourselves and each other accountable for confronting the system’s historical inequity. It can be difficult and painful to confront the ways I have been implicit in oppression, but students deserve teachers who will work alongside them to make the world a more just place.”

Chaffee’s students build literacy skills through a unique partnership with Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company and internalize and apply what they have learned through collaborative projects centered on the theme of “justice and injustice.” Chaffee also serves as Humanities Department Chair, co-coordinator of a weekly all-school Community Circle, and a member of the Instructional Leadership Team.

Since 2010, she has mentored pre-service teachers from Tufts University and Boston University. In 2013, Chaffee worked as a consultant on EL Education’s curriculum design project, collaborating with educators from across the country to write 8th grade ELA curricula. Since their publication, these curricula have been downloaded more than 3 million times and implemented by over 1,000 schools nationwide.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Sydney was a member of Massachusetts’ Teacher Advisory Cabinet and a Teach Plus Policy Fellow. As Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Chaffee has appreciated opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from across Massachusetts, advocate for the profession to be elevated and respected, and continue to learn from her students.

“I am honored to be the 2017 National Teacher of the Year,” Chaffee said in May. “In the course of the next year, I hope to participate in a national conversation on how education can be a tool for social justice and empower students to stand up for themselves and create change.”

Sydney earned a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.Ed. from Lesley University.