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5/6/2016 - Jahana Hayes of JFK High is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year

WATERBURY, CONN - At first, the few hundred students who assembled Thursday morning at the John F. Kennedy High School auditorium had no idea why they were there.

A large video screen set up on the stage broadcast the CBS This Morning show while a film crew from CBS news filmed the students from the stage. Off to the side stood Mayor Neil M. O’Leary, School Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Ouellette, Assistant Superintendent Darren Schwartz, Police Chief Vernon Riddick, Board of Aldermen President Paul Pernerewski and others.

Then school Principal Robert Johnston told the students why they were there: Social studies teacher Jahana Hayes, the Connecticut State Teacher of the Year, was one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. The announcement was going to be made in a few minutes live on CBS This Morning.

Mr. Johnston asked his students to practice a good “Waterbury cheer,” and they let out a whoop. But it wasn’t loud enough so he asked them to cheer again. This time it was much louder. Regardless if Mrs. Hayes won or not, Mr. Johnston wanted his students to cheer to show the country they were good sports and good students.

But, really, he had nothing to worry about. At 8:42 a.m., anchor Gayle King announced Mrs. Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and the students let out a cheer that could be heard across the city. Mrs. Hayes, who was live in the studio on CBS This Morning, was her usual, humble, affable, lovable self, allowing the entire country to get a glimpse of why she is such a wonderful teacher, educator, citizen and role model.

Dr. Ouellette said the award was “an unbelievable attribute to the teaching profession, to all the teachers in Connecticut and, most importantly, to the teachers of Waterbury. She believes in the urban way, she believes in reform, she’s lost sight of Waterbury.”

Dr. Ouellette said witnessing the announcement along with the Kennedy students “was very emotional for me as a superintendent.  Waterbury has waited 64 years for a Connecticut Teacher of the Year and to have the national award is just a spectacular feeling.”

To view the CBS This Morning segment with Mrs. Hayes CLICK HERE

To see another great clip of Mrs. Hayes at the White House CLICK HERE