By J1 students
Third time’s a charm for Mr. Justin Hayes, who has returned to Saegertown to teach senior government and economics and provide ESL (English Second Language) services after being previously furloughed from the district. He replaces Mr. Brian Lipps who took a leave of absence for this year.
Mr. Hayes graduated from Edinboro University and started his teaching career in an alternative education school in Erie in 2007. Then he went to East High School in 2009, where over a third of the student population comes from outside the United States. For five years, he helped refugees and other international students learn English as a second language. Students from all over the world, including countries like Somalia, Nepal and Iraq, were represented by flags that hung around his classroom. From 2015-17, he worked for PENNCREST: first as an ESL specialist for the district, then as the technology education teacher at Saegertown Elementary. However, due to budget constraints, he was furloughed the for the 2017-18 school year.
Mr. Hayes chose to look on the bright side of what many would have viewed as a career setback. “It was totally amazing,” Mr. Hayes said. “I got to hang with my daughter for the first year of her life. I don’t take that opportunity for granted.” According to Hayes, family is his highest priority. He lives with his wife Adrienne, his 11 year old step son, Trent, and his 13-month-old daughter Teighan. They also have two small dogs (Bishop and Kingston) and a Maine Cat named Rook.
Outside school, Mr. Hayes enjoys watching and playing sports. He played both tennis and basketball in high school and remains an avid fan to this day. Another passion of his is cooking, especially on his electric smoker, where smoked wings are one of his self-reported specialties. He also enjoys listening to reggae music and his favorite band Sublime.
Mr. Hayes looks forward to forming relationships and connections with students and staff. “I feel like a new teacher [at Saegertown],” Mr. Hayes said. He noted that this is his first time teaching classes with a majority of students whose native tongue is English.
Here he strives to connect with his students in ways that he could not at East High, and he has a willingness to learn from his students. “Please take my mistakes and learn from them. Please take my experience and apply it,” Mr. Hayes said. “I definitely don’t have all the answers.”
(This web post is the first completed by the J1 students as a collaboration. Look for future bylines.)