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Dorchester teacher named finalist for National Teacher of the Year

Sydney Chaffee teaches at Codman Academy Charter Public School and was also named 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

A Dorchester teacher may be one of the best in the nation.

Sydney Chaffee, a teacher atCodman Academy Charter Public School, is one of four finalists in the running for "National Teacher of the Year," according to the Massachusetts Department of Education.

"Ms. Chaffee's dedication to her students and willingness to lead both inside and outside of the classroom are representative of the Commonwealth's strong teaching force,"Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement."I am proud to congratulate her on this well-deserved national recognition."

Chaffee has been teaching at the Dorchestercharter school since 2007. She teaches ninth grade humanities. She was honored as the Commonwealth's 2017 Teacher of the Year in May.

Chaffee has been successful in part for her belief thateducation can be a"transformative tool for social justice," according to the award organizers.

At Codman Academy, Chaffee teaches a year-long class called "Justice and Injustice."

"We teach literacy through the lens of looking at four historical moments where justice and injustice were at play: the Columbusstory, the Haitian revolution, Apartheid and at the end of the year we talk about whether Puerto Rico is a colony or not,"Chaffee said on WBUR'sRadio Boston.

She said that her school wanted to includethe Haitian revolution in the syllabus because it has a large Haitian-American student population.

"It's a great honor," Chaffee said on WBUR about being named a finalist. "It's humbling, there are so many teachers all over state and country doing amazing work."

The other three finalists for the national recognition are Chris Gleason, an instrumental music teacher and band director in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Megan Gross, a special education teacher in San Diego; and Athanasia Kyriakakos, an artist and teacher in Baltimore, Maryland.

The National Teacher of the Year program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers; the winner will be announced later this spring and will get to spend the next year traveling the country to advocate on behalf of both teachers and students.

 

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