By Lindsey Clinton, Staff Writer
Mrs. Hayden grew up surrounded by people who were very influential to her career choice, including her mother. “She is a librarian, so she helped start me on a life of being a book lover,” Mrs. Hayden said about her mother. Mrs. Hayden would sit down and devour bags of books that her mother brought home to her. Her older sister played a major role in her life, being like a built-in best friend, “so kind and patient”. Mrs. Hayden followed in her older sister’s footsteps, taking the same classes and playing the same sports. Continuing on the train of strong and inspiring women, her grandmother too was, “really formative to my childhood”. She would go over to her house every day as she “lived around the block – a stone’s throw away if you had a good arm.”
Life has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic for all of us, but especially for Mrs. Hayden. “Becoming a mother during a pandemic has certainly been challenging, but it’s also been a profound gift,” she says. With the extra time we all had stuck, cooped up in our homes, she was able to spend lots of it with her son. Getting creative with things to do safely, her family would have picnics in their backyard and dance parties to nursery rhymes in the kitchen. Mrs. Hayden remembers going on a walk with her son one day around Christmastime to find a group of neighbors dressed up as Santa and his elves. They were “just having their own little parade to spread some holiday cheer to all the kids on the block.” To Mrs. Hayden, getting a socially distanced picture with them and her son was “a better photo than any mall-Santa could have given!”
Spending so much time reading, it can be a difficult task to pick a favorite book. For Mrs. Hayden, there are different tiers. From childhood favorites, such as Harry Potter, to high school picks, like Mice of Men and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In college, she would look forward to reading poetry and having intellectual conversations with classmates about “very snobby high-brow literature”. The books she reads are always tightly linked to phases in life and the memories tied to them.
Throughout her life, she has always had her mindset on becoming a teacher. “I just loved school and it was a comfort zone,” Mrs. Hayden says. “I have always been good with kids and enjoy the flexibility of their minds.” Many individuals downplay the significant roles of teachers and the education system in society. Nearing the end of high school, people would tell her “that I was too smart to become a teacher. Imagine!?” and she should do more than “just” teach. These people influenced her college major, starting off going to school with the hopes of becoming a journalist. Not long after did she realize that she “really wanted to be sitting in literature and education classes,” changing her major in her second semester of college. Her love for her job as a teacher also comes from the “constant change, the creativity it requires, the opportunities it creates to face discomfort head-on.”
“I would be a different person today if I wasn’t a teacher,” says Mrs. Hayden. “My students make me a better person.” Even when she was teaching at the middle school, each and every one of her students amazed her with how socially engaged and self-aware they are. Interacting with students every day has made her “more patient and generous, curious, compassionate” and “just kept me on my toes”.
Growing up with an older sister who she watched leave for college and go through significant milestones before her, Mrs. Hayden would always try to rush to the next thing. “I think I had Senioritis starting in ninth grade.” she says, “I wanted to get HS over with so I could move on to the real world.”. Looking back, if she could give her younger self one piece of advice, it would be to cool down, “enjoy the present, and not to try to rush into adulthood!”
Featured Photo: Provided by Mrs. Hayden