WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury held a big celebration to honor Jahana Hayes as National Teacher of the Year.
“People have no idea of what happens in this building and even less of an idea what happens in this city but they are going to learn today,” Hayes said.
Gov. Malloy applauded Hayes for her dedication to students and changing the next generation, “Dream big, she did. Work hard, she did. Lead, she did. And some of you come back and teach, she has done that as well.”
Hayes has been a social studies teacher at Kennedy High School for 10 years. She says her experiences made her a better teacher, “I know what it feels like when those kids come in here and they have this negative impression of themselves. I know what that feels like and I’m not going to let them leave here like that.” Hayes is the fourth Connecticut teacher to be named National Teacher of the Year.
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Makyle Hawk is a senior at Kennedy High and spoke at the celebration. “Mrs. Hayes is dynamic. Everything about her is infectious. You get this feeling of love from her. you get this feeling of wanting you to succeed and she makes you feel that she wants you involved in her success,” Hawk said.
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Students who had Hayes as a teacher say she’s a role model. Angelique Devitt is a 10th grader and Hayes is her teacher. “It doesn’t stop at the classroom. She takes us through everything. We need community service. It’s not just go find it on your own. She doesn’t just leave us, she joins us,” said Devitt.
Hayes will spend a year traveling the nation to represent teachers. “Instead of teaching here in this building I have to teach the nation,” added Hayes. Devitt added, “She will always be a member of Kennedy.”
Hayes will head to the White House on Tuesday where she will be honored by President Obama.