Teacher of the Year awarded to Jahana Hayes of Waterbury

Dannel Malloy and Jahana Hayes, Connecticut's 2016 Teacher of the Year, announcing her win to her sophomore year social studies class at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — State and local officials, teachers and students gathered Friday to celebrate Jahana Hayes of Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School as Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Jahana Hayes has worked at JFK High School in Waterbury for eleven of her thirteen years as an educator in social studies. Over the last decade, she has taught World History, Roots of American Citizenship, U.S. History, Civics & Geography, and African American History.

She encourages her students to put concepts into action and to think beyond the classroom. Her students are taught to work creatively to positively impact their communities.  With her encouragement, some of her students have participated in projects with Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

On top of her role as a teacher, Hayes leads Waterbury’s after-school programming system, and has worked with a team to strategize minority teacher recruitment. What’s more, she mentors new educators, and hopes to formalize mentorship in districtwide program. Her goal is to implement a service learning curriculum that centers on students helping others.

Hayes believes this award will not only inspire students to pursue careers in education, but will demonstrate the impact an individual can have.

“I am extremely humbled by this honor and thrilled by what it means for students at Kennedy High School and for the Waterbury community. I’ve been telling my students for years that excellence happens here every day. Our students need to know that they have value and can make a difference in this world. This honor makes that real for them.”

Dannel Malloy stresses the importance of careers in education.

“Teachers change the world. Across the state, we’re making progress because educators are working tirelessly to improve lives and equip children to achieve their dreams. We all have a special teacher who inspired us to work hard and rise to our potential. And today, we’re recognizing one of them who has gone above and beyond.

Effective January 1, 2016, Jahana Hayes will serve locally and nationally as teacher-ambassadors for public education. She will play a role in a variety of education advisory committees, and be a consultant to the Commissioner of Education, and will participate in U.S. Department of Education meetings, as well as National State Teacher of the Year Program planning and networking sessions.

Hayes, as well as the three finalists, will be honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 10, at Hartford’s Bushnell Theater.

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