Teacher Spotlight on Mrs. Hayes
Grades Taught: Junior Academy (7th-8th) and Academy (9-12)
Subjects Taught: Art, Domestic Arts, Yearbook
Years teaching: 21 years
Years at Telesis: 10 years
Bachelors in Education
Yearbook Alumni Organizer-Advisor
Mentor for the Art Department
Past Character Council Advisor
Past Travel Club co-advisor
Other: 25 years retired from Girl Scouts as a leader, including upper positions: Leader of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year (both national recognition).
Cheerleading Coach 15 years for travel cheer teams
Leadership Lake Havasu, Class of 2018
Q. What motivated to become a teacher? Why did you want to become a teacher?
A. I didn’t plan to be a teacher at first. I actually was going to school for child psychology. An area of my coursework required that I spend a summer in a facility for troubled kids. Once I finished, my husband said, “You need a new major.”
I said, “What are you talking about?”
He said that because I wanted to take the kids home with me. I didn’t think they were troubled, they just needed someone to be there for them.
After talking to the counselor at the facility, the counselor said I should think about teaching. So, I left that summer and started to pursue a teaching degree.
Later, the restaurant I owned and my house burned down in the Santa Barbara fire. I ended up moving to Lake Havasu and began cooking classes for Desert Tech. It turned into a full-time position. I completed my teaching courses and that’s just how I ended up getting into teaching,
Q. Why do you like teaching?
A. I just love the kids. I get to teach them, but I also get to do the fun stuff – and because it’s not math, science, or English, the students want to come to my class.
I love getting students to realize that everyone is artistic and everyone has their own artistic form. You know how people will say, “I can just draw stick-figures”? Well, there are famous people out there who started off drawing stick-figures and now they are producers. Tim Burton started off drawing stick figures and now he is a millionaire who creates movies and books. I want to show students that even though he started off drawing stick figures, he got better and better until he is where is today.
Q. How does the profession give back to you when teachers give so much? Teachers give so much of their time, money, and energy. Why keep doing it?
A. I keep doing it because I love what I do. I think it’s sad that movie stars and professional sports stars make millions compared to what educators make. Do I think teachers need to make millions? No, because then people would be doing it for the wrong reasons. You must have a passion for teaching because it takes a lot of work and a lot of energy. I think most people who go into teaching know that you aren’t going to make a lot of money. I say that I am very fortunate because my husband makes all the money, but I get to love my job.
Q. What’s the most important thing you want your students to take away from your class?
A. I want them to understand that they can do it. With practice, anyone can develop their own art form. And anyone can get a good grade in art because you just have to try and apply yourself.
Q. Who inspires you? Why?
A. I will have to go with my mom. She continues to support anything I choose to do in life. She is my biggest cheerleader. When I started in Girl Scouts, she was my assistant, when I did cheer, again was my assistant. When I decided to change majors in school, again very supportive.
My passion is to give and teach people to give – this was instilled in my life as a youngster. My mom, even with not a nickel in her coin purse, she would still invite you over for dinner.
Q. I know there are students of yours who have graduated and have come back to campus to visit you. What kinds of conversations are happening?
A. About three to four years ago I had a gentleman, prior student, get in touch to ask if he could come talk to my class. He didn’t disclose the topic, he said he just wanted to come talk to my students. He was a tough kid and gave his teachers a hard time when he was in school. It turned out that he had gone into the military. He realized after boot camp that he had been a pretty difficult student and he wanted to change. He explained to my 8th graders, “I know how you are, I know what you’re doing, and what you’re thinking. But I am telling you that you need to step up and take ownership of your actions. I am two years behind in life because I goofed off.” That really brought tears to my eyes. It was very inspirational to see that transition.
Once I was with my mom at the bank and one of my students who worked there stopped me and asked if I remembered her. She turned to my mom and said, “This lady changed my life.” She went on to talk about how I helped her on prom night. Her dress got ruined and I had helped her fix it. She explained that the whole night could have been different if I didn’t care enough to help her. She said she could have decided to just not go to prom, but go out drinking instead, and that one night could have set her on a different path in life. She got proposed to at prom and she is still happily married. Even though it’s something that seems so small and miniscule, it still turned around a potential bad cause and effect.
Sometimes we must have conversations with students that are probably too personal because they have nobody else to confide it. Those students have come back to visit to say thank you for being someone I could confide in.
I have kids email me and say, “Mrs. Hayes, you probably don’t remember me, but…”
Some student messaged me to say things like, “You taught me how to cake decorate and I’ve been making cakes for my kids for the past six years.” I have one student who does cake decorating professionally now and boy does she have some nice cakes!
I had one (prior student) come back last Friday and bring me a fancy lipstick. I asked her what it was for. She explained that when she saw that it was a Frida Kahlo lipstick, she thought of me. I had assigned a report for her to do on Frida Kahlo, an artist from the ‘40s, back when she was in my class. The student said to me “…and I remember you always saying, ‘Everything is fine. Just put some lipstick on and you’ll make it through the day.’” And so she brought me this lipstick!
A past student even brought me a burrito on the first day of school! He said, “Mrs. Hayes, I didn’t want you to be “hangry” in front of the kids on your first day of school.”
I said, “I don’t get it.”
He said one day he was in my class and he was super crabby, and it was right before lunch. He said I told him, “You are just ‘hangry’. Once you go to lunch and come back you’ll be fine.” He said that “hangry” word sticks with him so he just had to come back and bring me a burrito on the first day of school.
My husband will even get stopped by my prior students and they will tell him stories. He said, “You have such a connection with them.”
Q. What is your favorite part about teaching art classes?
A. My favorite part is teaching domestic arts and showing students those things that kids don’t learn at home anymore. For example, we make macaroni and cheese from scratch, do canning, and we make beef jerky – most people don’t do that at home. I like them to see that they can do these things, and they can make it better, healthier, and more cost effective. It also gives them self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.
Q. What’s your favorite lesson to teach in domestic arts?
A. Showing students how to make candy and homemade pasta. The students really get into it. They tell me , “Wow, you can totally taste the difference (between homemade and from-the-box pasta).” Although– they do think it’s too much work to do on a daily basis at home.
Q. How did you get into domestic arts?
A. Right out of high school I took (art) classes at a college. I also took classes, like those $30 painting classes you can do, at a cake decorating company called Calico Cake Company near Knotts Berry Farm. They did cake decorating classes and candy-making classes and pretty soon they asked me if I wanted to teach the classes.
When I got married, I made my own wedding cake (I practiced and practiced), dress, bridesmaid’s dresses, all the guys’ vests, and everything.
Are there any special kudos you’ve received from parents that mean a lot to you?
I have received little gifts and gift cards and I received a couple “orchids” in the paper. That’s always cool.
Q. What’s your favorite part about teaching at Telesis?
A. I think once you are here and established, you are respected enough to be given the freedom to do your own thing – to make it exciting for the kids. I know there are some things I do here that probably wouldn’t happen at other public schools. For example, the spooky Halloween Lock-In fundraiser.
I like the close family thing. I like the fact that we really do stand by our Telesis Triangle. It really is the student, parent, and the teacher coming together. Not all parents get involved, but as staff we really do try to get them involved. I think even if we had bigger class sizes it would still be that way – because it’s what we’re made of.
When I see kids, who are struggling, leave to go to another school, I get disappointed because sometimes the parent lets the student make that decision. I get upset because those students get lost. Sometimes we’re fortunate and they come back. Even though it’s a lot of work, even if they had been in trouble and are coming back for a second chance, those are usually the ones we can still save. I think we can do that because we’re close-knit.
If there isn’t something quite working for a student, we (staff) are close enough to where I can talk to another teacher who can give more insight as to how to help that students and get him or her interested in a particular class project.
Some kids may not have the money to participate in certain activities, but we say, “How can we make this happen?” Some schools wouldn’t even notice that a student didn’t have the means to participate, but we do.
So, some people may think it’s silly, but our Telesis Triangle really works.