Jahana Hayes, the 2016 Connecticut Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year, is a history teacher and the chairperson of the School of Academic Renown (SOAR) Program at Kennedy High School in Waterbury. Mrs. Hayes is the chairperson of the Kennedy School Governance Council, is the lead teacher for the 21st Century after school program, served as a NEASC chairperson and a visiting committee member, and helped secure a Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention grant for the district. Mrs. Hayes mentors new teachers and is currently assisting in establishing district-wide mentor programs. As co-advisor of the Helping out People Everywhere (HOPE) club, she has traveled around the country with students to build homes with Habitat for Humanity, and she has raised thousands of dollars for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Mrs. Hayes earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University, a master’s degree from the University of St. Joseph, and a 6th Year advanced degree from the University of Bridgeport.