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Unveiling Our 2017 National Conference Keynote Speaker: Sydney Chaffee!

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    Katie Park

We’re excited to announce that the  Keynote Speaker for this year’s National Conference is the 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee. Sydney will speak at the Closing Session of the conference on Sunday, October 29th.

A 9th grade humanities teacher from Codman Academy Charter Public School, an EL Education Credentialed School, Sydney has always pushed herself and her students to take risks. As a teacher, she is always looking for ways to help her students, not only in academics, but in every aspect of life.
 
“When smart, driven teachers are given time and space to collaborate, we can help all of our students in all of our schools succeed. We have a lot of work to do, but we can achieve so much for kids when we commit-together-to being simultaneously optimistic and daring,” Sydney said.
 
Latanya Simpson, Sydney’s former student, always sought her advice. “She didn’t stop at being a teacher. She was a mentor, too, and that’s how she was with all her students,” Latanya noted.
 
Thabiti Brown, principal of Codman Academy, said, “This honor couldn’t happen to a better educator. For many years, she has been a guiding light at our school.” He also noted that Sydney “is a department chair and leads strong teacher-training efforts. She also is adept at teaching social justice to students, and colleagues and students seek her out for counsel.”
 
The president of Codman’s upper school, Brendan O’Connell, said, “She finds leverage in the classroom by giving other students the spotlight. She puts the students to work and gives them access to the richest materials. She creates an environment for learning rather than teaching in the traditional sense.”
 
Before Codman, Sydney, served as a Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools’ 8th Grade Academy in Codman Square and the Coordinator of Boston Public Library’s Homework Assistance Program, where she recruited, trained, and supervised Boston high school students to tutor K-8 students in every library branch across the city.
 
For Sydney, winning the National Teacher of the Year award has been a humbling experience.  She plans to use the opportunity to not only share her practices with other educators, but also learn from them as well.  She is excited to “participate in a national conversation on how education can be a tool for social justice and empower students to stand up for themselves and create change.”
 
Read the EL Education Q&A with Sydney here.
 
The National Conference will take place in Chicago this October 27-29, 2017. Find out more here.