The Council of Chief State School Officers announced on April 28 that Jahana Hayes, a high school history teacher in Waterbury, Connecticut, is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.
Hayes teaches at John F Kennedy High School, but the community is her classroom. Connecting lessons learned in school to real life is an integral part of her instruction. Hayes seeks to send students into the world not just academically prepared but as conscientious and productive members of society.
“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.”
As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Hayes will spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. Hayes looks forward to sharing her belief in the importance of service-learning, and in making the teaching profession more attractive and appealing to young people across all demographics.
“CCSSO is honored to support the nation’s great teachers, and I am excited that people across the nation and the world will soon learn from Jahana Hayes’s commitment to education,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO.
“Jahana values a quality education for all students, and she finds ways to engage students outside of her classroom walls to improve her community—and strengthen the character of her kids. I look forward to the year ahead and all that parents, students and fellow educators will learn from Jahana.”
“The Selection Committee selected Jahana Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year because we believe her message of service-learning resonates in the education discussion today,” the committee stated. “In addition, we believe she has a strong story that speaks to educators and will bring an important perspective to the public discourse over the next year.”
“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,” said Waterbury Superintendent Kathleen M Ouellette. “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!”
The other three finalists for 2016 National Teacher of the Year were Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, (Washington), Daniel Jocz, (California), and Shawn Sheehan, (Oklahoma).