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Posts tagged ‘national teacher of the year’

Teachers Rally for One of Their Own


At a rally this weekend, Jahana Hayes thanks teachers and other union members for their support. For more rally photos, visit CEA’s Flickr page.

Chanting “Labor is your neighbor,” dozens of union members—including fellow educators—gathered on the Meriden town green Saturday to show their support for teacher-turned-Congressional-candidate Jahana Hayes. Hayes is vying for the House seat in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District.

A former Waterbury educator and Connecticut Teacher of the Year, Hayes was named National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and spent the following year traveling across the country, advocating on behalf of public education, and listening to educators, administrators, community leaders, and others about issues that impact students, families, and communities.

“Jahana is a strong champion and advocate for Connecticut students and teachers,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “She has overcome numerous challenges and has taken every opportunity to improve her own life and the lives of others. She is exactly the type of person we need fighting for all of us in Congress.” Read more

National Teacher of the Year Thanks Retired Educators

CEA Retired President Gloria Brown.

CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown.

The nearly 200 retired teachers gathered this morning for the CEA-Retired Fall Issues Conference were reminded of why they went into teaching and everything they love about it still.

“We will always care about public education,” said CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown. “Our organization provides many opportunities for retired members to continue to be active in public education.”
Read more

National Teacher of the Year Says Union Support Has Allowed Her to Soar

Waterbury high school teacher and National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes speaks at the NEA Representative Assembly July 7. Photo by Scott Iskowitz/NEA.

Waterbury high school teacher and National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes spoke at the NEA Representative Assembly July 7. Photo by Scott Iskowitz/NEA.

In addition to being an inspirational and dynamic teacher with a compelling story, National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes is also a proud union member. Addressing the 7,500 NEA members gathered for the last day of the NEA Representative Assembly Thursday, she told the educators, “I am able to soar because my union keeps me grounded.”

Hayes, a history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, knows all too well that teachers can accomplish more for their students when they join together and have the support of a union. She thanked CEA President Sheila Cohen, Waterbury Teachers Association President Kevin Egan, and her Waterbury colleagues for their support. Read more

National Teacher of the Year Talks Evaluations, Ranking Schools, and Giving Back

Jahana Hayes spoke at a pep rally in her honor at John F. Kennedy High School after being named National Teacher of the Year.

History teacher Jahana Hayes spoke at a pep rally in her honor at John F. Kennedy High School after being named National Teacher of the Year.

“There’s this common misconception that teachers don’t like evaluation, and that’s not accurate at all,” National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes told WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil.

In an interview yesterday on Where We Live, Hayes touched on many aspects of her teaching career at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, her experiences growing up, and what it’s been like to be thrust onto the national stage. A long list of news outlets have featured Hayes and her inspiring story since she was named National Teacher of the Year earlier this month, however Nalpathanchil also probed into Hayes’ thoughts on current education policies and issues. Read more

Teachers’ Work is Invaluable and Essential, says President Obama, Honoring Waterbury Teacher

Waterbury teacher and National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes was honored at the White House by President Obama today.

Waterbury teacher and National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes was honored at the White House by President Obama today.

President Obama’s top order of business late this afternoon at the White House was to congratulate Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes and acknowledge that it is time to empower all teachers with classroom flexibility and give them the respect they deserve.

Mrs. Hayes was named National Teacher of the Year late last week. “Jahana sees grace and possibility in each student. Because she sees it, they begin to see it,” he said.

According to President Obama, particularly impressive is that Mrs. Hayes inspires her students to give back with community service. “That shows her students the power and influence they can bring to bear on things around them.” Read more

Ready to Take on the Nation, It’s Waterbury’s Own Mrs. Hayes

Jahana Hayes

National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes in front of her beloved Kennedy High School.

Look out America! Teacher Jahana Hayes now has a national platform to advocate for students and teachers, as well as raise public awareness about the value of community service.

Hayes was named National Teacher of the Year yesterday. Today, at a special program at her school replete with dignitaries from across the state, J.F. Kennedy High School students exploded in celebration shouting, “We love you, Mrs. Hayes!” She replied, “I love you more!”

Hayes asked students, “Imagine, just for a second, if every kid in every school in every state felt how you feel right now. If every student had pride of ownership in his or her community.” Read more

Waterbury Teacher Jahana Hayes Named National Teacher of the Year

Waterbury John F. Kennedy High School teacher Jahana Hayes is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

Waterbury John F. Kennedy High School teacher Jahana Hayes is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

The announcement is in—Waterbury social studies teacher Jahana Hayes, Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, has been named National Teacher of the Year! Below is a statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen.


We are extremely proud of Jahana Hayes and her unyielding passion for all of her students. She is a shining example of the countless educators who are making a difference in the lives of each and every one of our students.

As a graduate of the Waterbury Public Schools, Jahana says her Waterbury teachers helped her become who she is today. They continue to be a driving influence in how she approaches her own teaching—focusing on students as unique individuals and helping them achieve their dreams.  Read more

Honoring Teachers Draws Important, Positive Attention to Education

At the Teacher of the Year Ceremony last night, Connecticut's 2012 Teacher of the Year David Bosso said, “It’s an honor to represent so many excellent educators.”

“An amazing experience all around,” “it’s brought a lot of meaning to what I do every day,” “the highpoint of my career to date.” These are just some of the ways Connecticut educators are describing the experience of being named their district’s teacher of the year.

All 97 Connecticut 2012 teachers of the year were recognized last night at a ceremony at The Bushnell. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program seeks to identify, from among many outstanding teachers of the year, one teacher to serve as a visible and vocal representative of what is best in the profession.

Chris Poulos, Connecticut’s 2007 teacher of the year and president of the Teacher of the Year Council, explained why the program is so important.

“We believe teacher recognition is essential to the profession. It improves schools and helps students succeeds.”

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman told the assembled teachers of the year, their families and superintendents, “You are the ones who teach the future, who inspire the future. You are a very special group of people. You have chosen a life of constantly giving.”

Teachers appreciate the positive attention.

Connecticut’s 2012 Teacher of the Year David Bosso of Berlin said, “Educators are often the unsung heroes of our society.”

Greenwich Teacher of the Year Karen Boyea said, "I think programs like this really validate what teachers are doing every day to help students in Connecticut.”

Greenwich Teacher of the Year Karen Boyea, a semifinalist for state teacher of the year, agreed saying, “I think so much of what I see every day goes unnoticed: the small things that people do that mean so much to students. I think programs like this really validate what teachers are doing every day to help students in Connecticut.”

Connecticut’s 2011 Teacher of the Year Kristen Record spoke to the teachers about what awaits them now that they’ve received this honor.

She mentioned the story of a parent who asked her, with the best of intentions, how she felt about reaching the pinnacle of her career at such an early age.

Record struggled with the question but, through her amazing experiences as teacher of the year, came to realize how much more she has to look forward to beyond this award.

“My responsibility as an outstanding teacher doesn’t end at the door of my classroom or of my school,” she said. “As a teacher leader I don’t just go to work and teach my students, I have a responsibility much larger than that.

“It’s important to remind the public that teachers and parents are not the only adults who should be invested in educating children. Education is not confined to the classroom, it happens in the public square as well.”

Bosso’s remarks concluded the ceremony. “It’s an honor to represent so many excellent educators,” he said. “Many of you could be where I am right now, so I am truly humbled.

“Other than children, teachers are the greatest resource a society has. Teaching is a noble act and we have an important responsibility to make sure that what we do is significant and long lasting.”

Sanctions v. Incentives: False Choice for Teachers?

It is great that CEA has asked teachers why they chose to teach.  It is an important question to ask, particularly given the shroud of cynicism surrounding the profession going back to the release of A Nation at Risk, and reaching a high point in the first term of George Bush. Teachers need to share their stories to put a face back on our profession.

These are big questions. Why do people choose to teach? What are the circumstances that cause them to stay in teaching? And particularly pertinent to the current engine of reform – increasing teacher effectiveness – what motivates teachers to improve?

NCLB was, and continues to be, the “stick without the carrot” approach to motivating a workforce. Now we are embarking on what may well prove to be an excessive reliance on the “carrot,” particularly if the pay for performance crowd prevails.

In preparation for this next era of federal intrusion, we ought to be asking the next question: “What keeps you in teaching?” Not that we haven’t asked before: we have. If James Carville were writing this he’d probably say, “It’s the working conditions STUPID.”  And I’m not talking simply about “wages, hours, and conditions of employment.”  Rather, in addition to these, that complex amalgam of conditions  which enhance a teacher’s ability to become increasingly more effective. You know what I am talking about.

The merit pay narrative relies on a powerful mythology about how workers in all other sectors of the economy are paid and what motivates  them to perform.  Recent (and also not so recent) research debunks these myths.

The latest edition of Harvard Business Review offers 10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010.  The first breakthrough idea is about motivation:  What Really Motivates Workers: Understanding the Power of Progress.  Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer “reveal what their research shows is the true key to employee motivation.” Among the findings from their analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries by knowledge workers who made daily ratings of their motivation and emotions, progress in one’s work – even incremental progress – is most frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation. The authors further indicate that “The key to motivation doesn’t depend on elaborate incentive systems. In fact, the people in our study rarely mentioned  incentives in their diaries.”

Another interesting finding that has some resonance for me is that those who manage these workers, when asked what they thought most powerfully motivated their employees, got it wrong.

Ask leaders what they think makes employees enthusiastic about work, and they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms. In a recent survey we invited more than 600 managers from dozens of companies to rank the impact on employee motivation and emotions of five workplace factors commonly considered significant: recognition, incentives, interpersonal support, support for making progress, and clear goals. “Recognition for good work (either public or private)” came out number one.

In the study, the knowledge workers ranked recognition low among the factors motivating their performance. Wait a minute, didn’t President Obama and Secretary Duncan recently say that “recognizing and rewarding teachers” will be a major driver in their proposal to revamp ESEA?  In fact, they have proposed a whopping quadrupling of the monies in the Teacher Incentive Fund. Could they possibly be barking up the wrong tree in the quest to improve teacher effectiveness?  It wouldn’t be the first time.

Consider the notion of progress. What has been the biggest criticism of Adequate Yearly Progress? The goal keeps moving – making the achievement of progress increasingly difficult until it reaches a point of impossibility. Is it any wonder that gradually, over the last decade, teachers find themselves in an existential vacuum? Anthony Mullen, one of the more articulate and thoughtful National Teachers of the Year, and also a CEA member, alluded to this recently in his blog Road Diaries (see the posting Teacher Tales).

Here’s one more recommendation as you think about what it is that motivates teachers and if we are out of line with the worldview of our brothers and sisters in the private sector. Check out the recent work of Daniel Pink, who recently published a book called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motives Us.”  As Publisher’s Weekly puts it, “Pink cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems.”

Below watch Dan Pink explaining some of his ideas on motivation in an interesting and entertaining presentation from

Connecticut’s 2010 Teacher of the Year Featured in the Advisor

Kristi Luetjen, a kindergarten teacher at Whiting Lane Elementary in West Hartford, is Connecticut’s 2010 Teacher of the Year.  She is featured in the December-January CEA Advisor, which will soon be arriving at your home.

The video below was filmed October 14, immediately after Luetjen was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year.  She speaks about being named Teacher of the Year, her work with special education students, and how she has brought yoga into the classroom.