Chanda Jefferson was born in Augusta, Ga and raised in Beech Island, South Carolina. After graduating from Midland Valley High School in Aiken County, she attended the University of South Carolina where she received her Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences with a minor in General Education in 2009 and her Masters in Teaching Secondary Sciences with an emphasis in Biology and General Sciences from the University of South Carolina. Ms. Jefferson is a recent graduate of Columbia University (New York), where she received a Masters of Education in Public School Building Leadership. She taught in the public schools of SC for over eight years. She taught Biology, A.P. Biology, and Chorus at C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, South Carolina. As a science teacher, she started an after school program to increase students’ achievement in science on the SC Biology End-of-Course Exam, served as a District Science Teacher Facilitator, Mentor Teacher, Wellness Coordinator, 8.5 Summer Program Activity Coordinator, and Health Science Advisory Board Member. In 2014, Ms. Jefferson was named C.A. Johnson High School Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Jefferson went on to serve as an Early College Facilitator and Biology Teacher at Airport High School in West Columbia, SC, followed by Science Department Chair, STEM Lead Teacher, and Science teacher at Fairfield Central High School in Winnsboro, SC. In her career, Chanda has been selected for several noteworthy fellowships including the Princeton University Molecular Biology Institute, NASA Airborne Research Experience for Educators, Siemen’s STARs Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and served as an Academy Teacher for SC StudentsFirst, an organization dedicated to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform. In 2014, she was named Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year for South Carolina by the National Association of Biology Teacher’s and invited by a Harvard University professor to speak to world-renowned scientists and researchers at the 74th Annual Society of Developmental Biology Conference in Snowbird, Utah. In 2017, she received a grant to attend the Amazon Educator Academy, where she conducted ecological research in the rainforest. Last year, she worked with the National Human Genome Research Institute as a network partner for a special 15th Anniversary DNA Day Celebration. Her contributions led to the Governor of South Carolina officially proclaiming SC DNA Day throughout the state. Ms. Jefferson served as the 2018- 2019 Fairfield County School District Teacher of the Year. In May, Ms. Jefferson was named the 2020 South Carolina Teacher of the Year! She continually searches for innovative ideas and strategies to positively impact the lives of students’ and always encourages students to follow their dreams.