The Codcast: Lessons from the teacher of the year

It was one thing when Sydney Chaffee was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Now she’s been named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year, with announcement of the winner due in April.

It’s been an exciting ride for the 9th grade humanities instructor at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester — the first charter school teacher to win the Massachusetts honor.  The Codcast sat down with Chaffee and asked what she thinks makes for great teaching. The two top ingredients, she says, are a passion for what you’re teaching (she says she has that in abundance for the interdisciplinary study of history and English that is her focus) and building relationships with students to see them “as whole people,” gain their trust, and motivate them to take risks. I’m “really trying to fire them up,” she says.

Give a listen to also hear her diplomatic handling of a question about how she’ll deal with a potential visit with the president, who traditionally welcomes winners of the award to the White House.

“Some of my students have a lot of concerns right now about what’s happening in the highest level of our government,” Chaffee says. “It seems like if I’m going to shake the president’s hand, maybe I can give him a message from my students.”

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

As many as 35 kids under Department of Children and Families supervision died in the last fiscal year, the Herald reports, suggesting the department still has a ways to go on it’s mission, as articulated by Gov. Charlie Baker, to “keep kids safe.”

A Globe editorial says it’s time for lawmakers to abolish as an elected position the post of Suffolk County Register of Probate, whose current officeholder, former Boston city councilor Felix Arroyo, is under suspension for unspecified reasons. The paper points out that voters have no idea how anyone performs in these positions they elect, that Arroyo won solely based on name recognition, and that such posts “seem to be nothing more than cushy sinecures for underemployed politicos,” a shoe that seems to fit equally well two other once-unemployed Boston city councilors, Steve Murphy and Maura Hennigan, who have also managed to wangle their way into obscure, high-paid elected county posts.

Beacon Hill lawmakers have filed a number of bills to reduce prison recidivism. (Gloucester Times)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Buzz is building in East Boston about the sale of Suffolk Downs. (CommonWealth)

With Quincy in the throes of  a frenzy of development, a city councilor has proposed a one-year freeze on projects while officials ponder zoning changes for some high- and mid-density residential areas. (Patriot Ledger)

The former chairman of the committee tasked with developing the new public safety building in Southborough said he will not support the new design, which has increased the cost of the project to $23 million, not including the expected $4.5 million needed to purchase the land. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A US Appeals Court panel denied President Trump’s bid to lift the restraining order on his controversial immigration ban, prompting the president to tweet, “SEE YOU IN COURT.” (New York Times) The National Review’s David French, who had pondered an independent run for president at the urging of some conservatives, said the ruling was bad in a number of ways but much of the blame goes to Trump’s handling of the issue.

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn reportedly told Russian officials in pre-inauguration talks a Trump administration would be friendlier than then-President Obama, potentially violating the law prohibiting private citizens from engaging in diplomatic efforts. (New York Times)

Trump tells China’s leader that the United States will honor a one-China policy. (New York Times)

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway is in hot water for using an interview on Fox to do a commercial for Ivanka Trump’s product line, which has been losing ground in the marketplace. (Time)

A Herald editorial declares “appalling” the latest attack from Trump, who never served in the military, on war hero John McCain — this one over McCain’s comments on the military action in Yemen — but says the bigger danger is “this is a man who also seems incapable of admitting to error or loss, incapable of self-reflection or self-criticism.

A record of nearly 5,500 individuals renounced their US citizenship last year, the biggest number coming after Trump’s election, according to the IRS. (U.S. News & World Report)

Adrian Walker says good for them about the five New England Patriots players who say they won’t be at any White House photo-op with Trump. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Lowell Sun editorial says the city needs a new vision for the Hamilton Canal District.

A leaked memo shows the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee will introduce legislation to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, removing one more piece of the Obama legacy. (New York Times)

EDUCATION

Betsy DeVos is not only unpopular with teachers unions and other predictable opponents, she  is also roiling the education reform world, where groups like the Massachusetts charter school association have distanced themselves from President Trump’s controversial education secretary. (CommonWealth)

Trump’s clamp down on immigration will be bad for Massachusetts higher ed, says Shirley Leung. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Salem News editorial lauds the proposed merger of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The Senate, once again riven along party lines, voted to confirm the nomination of Obamacare opponent US Rep. Tom Price as secretary of health and human services. (New York Times)

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says it’s going through with a scheduled fundraiser at the swank Florida club owned by President Trump despite backlash it’s receiving, but will avoid “controversial venues” for all future events. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Idling trains in Andover and Gloucester are creating big problems for residents and the environment, says an Eagle-Tribune editorial.

It snows, MBTA functions. That shouldn’t be newsworthy, but for reasons well known to all who rely on our aging and long-neglected transit system, it is. (Boston Globe)

Can you fly a commercial airline with a small amount of marijuana on you from a jurisdiction where it is legal to another where such possession is also allowed? It’s not so clear. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A New England power auction goes smoothly, assuring plenty of electricity for 2020-2021 despite a number of major plant closings. (CommonWealth) A controversial proposed power plant in Brockton that was recently granted an extension by the state failed to acquire any commitments at the regional energy auction, putting its future in question. (The Enterprise)

Trump administration policies are likely to have a mixed impact on the New England energy industry. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts officials want to close what they say is a loophole in regulations covering striped bass catches that they claim resulted in a number of illegal landings last year. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Critics say a spate of crime-related executive orders signed by President Trump will only revive discredited tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s and 90s. (Boston Herald)

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who wants to schlep his prisoners to the Southwest to help build President Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, is applauding a program Trump has pushed to train local law enforcement officials on how to detain illegal immigrants before they get bailed out of local jails. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe has seen a surge in digital subscriptions and January was one of its busiest months in terms of website visits in the last three years, according to an internal memo from editor Brian McGrory. (Media Nation)

The Globe takes a swipe at Boston Herald columnist and talk show host Howie Carr, a “man of the people” who has joined President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club where the initiation fee is $200,000.

The Malden Evening News and the Medford Daily Mercury have stopped publishing their print and online editions. (Associated Press)
Former TV weather forecaster Mish Michaels, whose job offer as a science reporter for WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston was pulled after host Jim Braude raised concerns about her views questioning the safety of childhood immunizations, says her beliefs were “positioned inaccurately” and she never claimed she doesn’t “believe in vaccines.” (Boston Globe)

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Sydney Chaffee certainly deserves congratulations for her Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award and for being a finalist for the national Teacher of the Year award. No question, she has a passion for teaching. So what’s going on in the charter school where she teaches? In 2017, the Codman Academy Charter Public School’s 12th grade class had 32 students but back in 2014 that class entered Codman with 51 students. So 19 students or 37% of the students Ms. Chaffee taught in 2014 didn’t make it to 12th grade. The 2016 senior/12th grade class at the Codman Academy Charter Public School’s had 19 students but back in 2013 when that class was full of 9th graders taught by Ms. Chaffee there were 46 students. That means 27 students or 59% of those students left Codman Charter over the course of those four years. How does the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education respond to charters like Codman where a majority of students simply don’t make it to graduation? The DESE simply grants authorization for the charter to add hundreds more students and more grades. That’s true. One of the Codcast interviewers stated Massachusetts charter schools “by and large have done a very good job.” I would say, by and large Massachusetts charter schools haven’t done a very good job by DESE keeps rewarding them with more seats as though they do a very good job.