Chanda Jefferson

Chanda Jefferson

Sponsor: U.S. Department of Energy
Fellowship Placement: United States House of Representatives
Hometown: Columbia, SC

Chanda Jefferson (Columbia, South Carolina) is a 9th-12th grade Biology teacher at Fairfield Central High School in Winnsboro, South Carolina.  She taught in the public schools of SC for ten years where she was also selected as the 2020 South Carolina Teacher of the Year. Ms. Jefferson attended the University of South Carolina where she earned her BS in Biological Sciences and MT in Secondary Sciences. She also earned an Ed. M. in Public School Building Leadership at Columbia University. In 2018, Ms. Jefferson worked with the National Institute of Health and National Human Genome Research Institute as a network partner for a special 15th Anniversary of DNA Day Celebration; contributing expertise in reviewing and curating genomics educational resources for other educators and students leading to the Governor of South Carolina issuing an official proclamation for DNA Day in South Carolina.

Ms. Jefferson has received many honors and notable fellowships throughout her career that focused on gaining access to STEM resources and opportunities for teachers and students including; the Princeton University Molecular Biology Institute, NASA Airborne Research Experience for Educators, Siemen’s STARs Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She was one of three teachers to receive the Amazon Educator Academy Scholarship and was invited to speak at the 74th Annual Society of Development Biology Conference.  A strong advocate for public education, Ms. Jefferson served as an Academy Teacher for SC StudentsFirst, an organization dedicated to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative policy reform. She believes that “all students can learn science,” and for students to learn, she must exhibit that science is part of their everyday life experience. Using the ideals of the constructivist theory, she uses hands-on activities to cater to each student’s individual learning style and incorporates social media, scientific modeling, inquiry, and STEM techniques in her lessons. She continues to use real-world science experiences to actively engage students and inspire them to become future leaders in STEM fields. Ms. Jefferson serves as an ambassador for teachers and engages with educators across the country encouraging them to use their stories, their students' stories, and their voices to advocate for positive change in education.