Fairfield Central High School biology teacher Chanda Jefferson has been named one of five finalists for the S.C. Teacher of the Year award.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Jefferson with the news on Monday at her Winnsboro school.
“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,” Spearman said in a news release. “Chanda's commitment to increasing the rigor in both her classroom and classrooms across South Carolina should be commended.”
Jefferson teaches grades nine through 12 and has worked on the local and state levels to improve student performance on the state Biology I end-of-course exam. In 2014, the National Association of Biology Teachers named Jefferson the Outstanding Biology Teacher for South Carolina.
Jefferson will receive $10,000 and advance to the next stage of the competition, which involves in an-person interview with a team of judges. The teacher of the year will be named during a May 8 gala in Columbia.
The winner receives $25,000 and a BMW to use while serving as a roving education ambassador for one year.
Jefferson was one of 20 teachers to receive the Princeton University Fellowship for Teachers and one of three to receive the Amazon Educator Academy Scholarship. Harvard University invited Jefferson to be a guest speaker for its 74th annual Society for Developmental Biology conference.
Jefferson has also served as an education network partner for the National Human Genome Research Institute, helping to plan a National DNA Day celebration in South Carolina.