Fresh from her meeting with President Barack Obama, 2016 National Teacher of the Year award winner Jahana Hayes offered advice to other educators.
When asked by U.S. News, the Waterbury, Connecticut history teacher said teachers should expect nothing.
She explained to the news magazine that teachers often enter the profession with preconceptions about education. Instead, educators should have an open mind and build relationships with students, in which the teacher and student learn from each other.
She added: “Always know where it is you are trying to go, but be very flexible in how you are going to get there.”
As teacher of the year, the Hartford Courant said Hayes will leave her classroom on paid sabbatical to travel across the nation as a teacher advocate.
Earlier this month, President Obama presented Hayes with the crystal apple award. The president said, “Our teacher of the year here stands as proof that we can’t set expectations high enough for our kids. There’s magic in those kids. We just have to find it. We have to unleash it.”
Hayes, 43, overcame obstacles to earn this high recognition. As the Washington Post reported, she grew up in a low-income community, infested with drugs and violence.
When she became pregnant at 17, Hayes’ teachers encouraged her to complete high school. Not only did she graduate from high school, she continued to college and achieved her dream of becoming a teacher in the community where she grew up.