Amanda Hayes seeks to multiply learning as Best Middle School Teacher
Her first year teaching public school was no middling effort.
Amanda Hayes was voted Best Middle School teacher for her work in the math department of Craig Middle School.
Her time at CMS follows three years with Moffat County Christian Academy.
“I had a lot of encouragement from another teacher who had made the switch the year before last. Then I got a call from CMS saying they needed someone, so I decided to branch out. My last class at MCCA is the one that really told me that I was on the right path, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I had great parents, great kids, amazing staff, they always encouraged me.”
Focusing on a single subject and a single grade level — eighth — was a welcome change after covering multiple parts of the curriculum previously, though math had been been her specialty in her previous job, where she had also taught her own son.
She added she wasn’t even planning to embark on a teaching career, originally working part-time as an aide at MCCA before she “fell in love with it.”
The classroom size at CMS isn’t too big a transition, rather the amount of students she sees throughout the day instead of one group of kids.
Teaching pre-algebra and early geometry entails finding a balance between bookwork and more engaging ways to keep students’ interest in what can be a dry topic, Hayes said.
“I try to engage them as much as I can, get them out of their seats, move them around, just be silly sometimes,” she said. “Kids make me laugh every single day. I’m never bored.”
Bonding with students and their families was a priority in her old position, she said, and the same is true at CMS.
“I feel like it’s important to make student connections, and I think I’m good at relating to them,” Hayes said. “I genuinely love them, and I hope they can tell that. That’s super-important.”
Even when the going gets tough, Hayes said she works to keep her patience with kids and show them how to conduct themselves as adults.
“I try to start every day with a clean slate. Doesn’t matter what behavior issues we had yesterday, we’re gonna start over. You have to forgive me, I have to forgive you and have that mutual respect,” she said. “Middle school is tough enough, so I hope I can make it a little bit better for them.”