Waterbury educator named 2016 National Teacher of the Year

This April 2016 photo released by the Waterbury Public Schools shows Jahana Hayes in Waterbury, Conn., a history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School who was selected as the National Teacher of the Year announced Thursday, April 28, by the Council of Chief State School Officers. She will be recognized by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony on Tuesday, May 3. (David Therault/Waterbury Public Schools via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT.


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – A Waterbury teacher has been given a national award for her excellence as an educator.

Jahana Hayes, a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, has been named the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made Thursday morning by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which administers the program.

Hayes was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year in October and was honored at an awards ceremony in November at the Bushnell in Hartford. Her career as an educator goes back 13 years with the most recent 11 years in Waterbury.

“I am honored to be the 2016 National Teacher of the Year,” Hayes said. “In the course of the next year, I hope to stoke a national conversation about education that is inclusive of everyone. I want to engage people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in this important effort to prepare well-rounded students for success in life.”

Hayes cites personal experiences as her reason for becoming a teacher. She is the first in her family to attend college, and gratefully recalls teachers in her life who let her borrow books to read at home. Today, she passes on this work by promoting cultural awareness and developing service learning curriculum for her school and community.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said teachers like Hayes are leading the way to a brighter future.
“What an exceptional educator – we are all proud,” said Connecticut Gov. Malloy. “Extraordinary academic rigor, high expectations, and unwavering commitment to service outside the classroom are the characteristics that Jahana brings to Waterbury students each and every day. She is truly preparing the next generation of global citizens. I want to congratulate Jahana and thank her for making a difference in the lives of so many Connecticut children and families.”

Waterbury Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Oullette agreed, adding that Waterbury is very proud to have Hayes working in their education system.
“To be the National Teacher of the Year requires not only pedagogical precision, but also the ability to connect to the hearts and minds of a school community,” Ouellette said. “Jahana’s own life experience, her passion for education, and the inspirational manner in which she impacts her students, all contribute greatly to her success. Jahana has masterfully refined a focused, pragmatic, yet heartfelt approach to an evolving global vision of education, bringing her to this pinnacle – the 2016 National Teacher of the Year! We in Waterbury, Connecticut are very proud!”

Kennedy High School will hold a celebration to honor Jahana Hayes as National Teacher of the Year at a school wide celebration on Friday.

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