Sydney Chaffee is a National Board Certified Teacher with a passion for helping diverse learners grow through authentic, relevant, interdisciplinary curricula. Sydney believes that education is an essential tool to work towards social justice. It can transform students’ self-perceptions and arm them to fight for a more just world. Throughout the school year, Sydney and her students seek to answer big questions: What is justice? How have people resisted injustice throughout history? What power do people have to change the world?
Sydney decided to become a teacher after being inspired by her professors at Sarah Lawrence College, who lit intellectual fires in her with great books and powerful questions. After earning her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence in 2005, Sydney moved to Boston to become a National Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools’ 8th Grade Academy, where she learned to infuse the hard work of teaching and learning with joy. As part of her work at Citizen Schools, Sydney also coordinated the Boston Public Library’s Homework Assistance Program and earned an M.Ed. from Lesley University in 2007.
Since 2007, Sydney has been the ninth grade Humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School. Sydney believes that intelligence is not fixed; all students can learn with appropriate supports and challenges. Her students build literacy skills through a unique partnership with Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company that culminates in a play set during a historical era students have studied. Students also internalize and apply what they have learned through collaborative projects, including a mock trial based on South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission and regular class discussions about complex texts.
In addition to teaching, Sydney has served as Humanities Department Chair, co-coordinator of a weekly all-school Community Circle, and a mentor teacher for pre-service teachers from Tufts University and Boston University. Outside of school, Sydney was a part-time faculty member at Boston University’s School of Education, a TeachPlus Policy Fellow, an EdX Policy Fellow, and facilitator of a Boston Educators Collaborative course that brought together teachers from district, charter, and parochial schools to collaborate on curriculum design.
In the spring and summer of 2013, Sydney worked as a consultant on EL Education’s curriculum design project, collaborating with educators from across the country to write 8th grade curricular modules. Since their publication, these curricula have been downloaded more than 3 million times and implemented by over 1,000 schools nationwide.
As 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Sydney appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with her colleagues across the state, advocate for the profession to be elevated and respected, and continue to learn from her students. 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.
Her TED talk has been viewed over 1.3 million times on TED.com
Sydney lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Matt; daughter, Zoe; and many, many books.
SCHOLARSHIPS STILL AVAILABLE FOR NYS TEACHERS with 1–5 years experience
2021 Mentor/Mentee Conference Scholarship Information:
Thanks to a very generous grant from the NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBE-RN) at NYU, NECTFL is pleased to announce 20 scholarships for new teachers (1-5 years experience) and 20 partial stipends for experienced “mentor” teachers (7+ years of experience) to attend NECTFL 2021. Click here for complete details and to apply.
Scholarship for a professional development course in Germany (on-site or virtual, tbd)
Are you a German teacher and AATG member? Apply for a Goethe-Institut scholarship for a professional development course in Germany in 2021! Click here to apply Deadline: March 12, 2021.
NECTFL Future Language Educator Scholarship
NECTFL is pleased to offer the NECTFL Future Language Educator Scholarship. A $1000 scholarship will be awarded to a future language educator from the NECTFL region to be used during the semester/year devoted to student teaching (graduate or undergraduate). The recipient will receive one night hotel stay and a complimentary registration to the NECTFL conference to accept the award. The scholarship will be awarded at the conference and may be used either during that spring session or the following fall semester.
Click here for complete details, requirements, and to apply. Deadline: Friday, February 26.
2021: Finding Our Voice: World Languages for Social Justice, Michael Bogdan, Chairperson
2020: Languages for All: Envisioning Language Learning Opportunities for Every Learner, Nathan Lutz, Chairperson
2019: Authentic Language, Authentic Learning, Rosanne Zeppieri, Chairperson
2018: Unleashing the POWer of Proficiency, Bill Heller, Chairperson
2017: Strengthening World Language Education: Standards for Success, Carole Smart, Chairperson
2016: Developing Intercultural Competence through World Languages, Rebecca K. Fox, Ph.D., Chairperson
2014: Sustaining Communities with World Languages, Janel Lafond-Paquin, Chairperson
2013: Developing Leaders for Tomorrow’s Learners, Arlene F. White, Chairperson
2012: Global Identities, Jennifer L. Steeley, Chairperson