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Waterbury educator named Teacher of the Year

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WATERBURY -- A Waterbury high school teacher has been named the state's Teacher of the Year.

Jahana Hayes learned she was Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Friday morning with a surprise visit from Gov. Dan Malloy and state Commissioner of Education Dianna R. Wentzell. Hayes is a high school social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury.

Hayes has been a teacher for 13 years, 11 in Waterbury. She encourages students to help neighbors and be active in the community and improve the world around them.

100 teachers competed for the honor of Teacher of the Year. They were chosen by former Teachers of the Year, and representatives from educational organizations, businesses, and the community.

In addition to mentoring new teachers, Hayes has taught World History, Roots of American Citizenship, U.S. History, Civics & Geography, and African-American History and served for seven years as the lead teacher for the district’s after-school programming and she helped recruit minority teachers for the district. Mrs. Hayes mentors new teachers and is working to create a district-wide teacher mentor program.

Hayes succeeds the 2015 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Cara Quinn, a teacher at Sunset Ridge School in East Hartford. Hayes and the other three finalists will be honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Bushnell in Hartford.