Sydney Chaffee, Teachers Unify Ambassador, is a 9th grade Humanities teacher and instructional coach at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, MA. As 2017 National Teacher of the Year, she has spoken to audiences around the world about the limitless power of teachers and students to change the world. Sydney is a National Board Certified Teacher with a passion for helping diverse learners grow through authentic, relevant, interdisciplinary curricula. She earned her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.Ed. from Lesley University. Learn more at www.sydneychaffee.com.
Kiki Leyba, Teachers Unify Ambassador, currently teaches at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co. He was a first year teacher when thirteen were killed and dozens were injured. During the next several years, Leyba mentored hundreds of students while privately battling PTSD symptoms and struggling to navigate the aftermath. In 2010 the impossible happened as a gunman violated his son’s middle school. This became a benchmark day in Leyba’s life: supporting others traumatized by school violence became a calling. Drawing upon decades of experience, Kiki has helped so many communities navigate the complex aftermath of campus violence. He considers his work with the Sandy Hook community a life changing experience. Kiki Leyba continues to support communities in trauma. Additionally, he works to educate others about smart gun legislation, red flag laws, and mental health funding. In October, Leyba was recognized by the organization, Keep Guns Off Campus, for his tireless efforts to end gun violence and support victims.
La-Shanda West, Teachers Unify Ambassador, is a survivor of gun violence who advocates for mental health, safe spaces, and violence prevention programs. She has taught secondary social studies for 21 years within the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system and currently serves as the iPrep Academy Leader and Cambridge Business Teacher at Cutler Bay Senior High. La-Shanda is a member of the School Advisory Committee for Sandy Hook Promise and National SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) where she has been supporting Youth Advisory Board members for the past five years. She believes one of the best ways to prevent violence is to engage teachers in the movement. Teachers are the builders of the community and can use their stories to change the narratives on guns and violence.
José Luis Vilson, Teachers Unify Senior Advisor, is a veteran educator, writer, speaker, and activist in New York City, NY. He is the author of This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education and the Executive Director of EduColor, an organization dedicated to race and social justice issues in education. He is currently a doctoral student studying sociology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
We are honored and grateful that José is volunteering to share his wisdom and expertise with Teachers Unify!