FCSD’s Chanda Jefferson named South Carolina Teacher of the Year

Gov. Henry McMaster presents the S.C. Teacher of the Year plaque to Chanda Jefferson. Looking on are S.C. Superintendent of Schools Molly Spearman, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and Fairfield School District Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green. Photo: South Carolina Department of Education

WINNSBORO – When Chanda Jefferson was named South Carolina’s 2020 Teacher of the Year last week, she made more than her mother proud. All of Fairfield County was bursting at the seams with pride for one of its own.

A native of Beech Island, SC, Jefferson has been teaching for eight years, the last three as a Biology teacher at Fairfield Central High School. Prior to that Jefferson was named S.C. Outstanding Biology Teacher in 2014, and was one of 20 teachers to receive the Princeton University Fellowship for Teachers. Other honors during her career include being invited by a Harvard University professor to speak to world-renowned scientists and researchers at the 74th Annual Society of Developmental Biology Conference in Utah.

“This has been a crazy adventure and a blessing at the same time!” Jefferson posted on her Facebook page.

FCSD honored Jefferson in a parade in front of Fairfield Central on Monday. Other District Teachers of the Year and 2019 Dual Enrollment graduates were also honored during the parade. | Martha Ladd

The day after being named the top teacher in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster honored the state’s new 2020 Teacher of the Year, and on Monday, the Fairfield County School District held a parade on Highway 321 in Winnsboro in Jefferson’s honor.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Jefferson traces her love for teaching to her childhood.

“As a child, I enjoyed playing school with my nieces, nephews, and cousins. I always took the role of teacher,” she said.

Jefferson said she is thrilled to be honored and that the work of every teacher is something to be recognized on a regular basis.

“Each day that we walk through the doors of our schools and classrooms, we positively impact the lives of students and that deserves to be celebrated every day, every day,” Jefferson said. “I am so thankful, honored, humbled and blessed to stand before you as the 2020 South Carolina Teacher of the Year.”

Jefferson has said her goal is forming relationships and lighting the way towards achievement for her students and the students across South Carolina.

“Each year, teachers receive students from all walks of life, and it is our job to teach them. Some students enter our classrooms with a village of support, while others enter alone,” she said. “Yet no matter how they arrive to our classrooms, we must build relationships with them, engage them, and show them that we care. All students will face challenging situations, hardships, and confusion, but in the midst of varying degrees of adversity, teachers have the power to show them how knowledge, uniqueness, and individual interests can empower them and create endless possibilities in life.”

Jefferson will receive a total of $25,000 and the keys to a new BMW to use while serving a one-year residency at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement. Jefferson will be a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements and other duties as she serves as the spokesperson for 50,000 teachers.

Her winnings will also include a set of new tires – for when she’s finished with her new ride – and a Jostens ring.