Waterbury woman named as National Teacher of the Year

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WATERBURY — A teacher at a Waterbury high school has been named national Teacher of the Year.

On Thursday, it was announced that Jahana Hayes, a history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, had been given the honor. This is the fourth time a teacher from Connecticut has been named as the nation’s top educator.

Hayes was named the state’s top teacher of 2016 last October. She was one of four finalists for the national teacher of the year award.

“Jahana is an outstanding spokesperson and ambassador for the teaching profession. Jahana goes the extra mile representing all that is great in the teaching profession. She sets high expectations for her students and even higher expectations for herself.  She encourages her students to be the best they can be and inspires dreams,” said Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen.

The national teacher of the year award is given by the Council of Chief State School Officers, and it identifies exceptional teachers who have been effective in the classroom.

Hayes grew up in an economically challenged neighborhood in Waterbury, and was exposed to drugs and violence at a young age. She credits her teachers for encouraging her to reach for more and do good.

She 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.

Greenwich teacher Tony Mullin was the 2009 National Teacher of the Year. LeRoy E. Hay from Manchester High School, was named National Teacher of the Year in 1983, while Dorothy Hamilton from Milford High School, had the honor in 1953.

Hayes is schedule to speak at the QUinnipiac University commencement ceremony on May 14.