Rebecca Hayden retires after 38 years of teaching



Rebecca Hayden’s positive impact on the English Department will be looked back on with a smile.

From baking delicious goods for her colleagues to inspiring students to reach for the stars, English teacher Rebecca Hayden’s positive influence will be remembered for a long time.

Hayden will be retiring after 38 years of teaching. Growing up in a family of teachers, Hayden said she always knew she wanted to be one.

“I’ve always loved the classroom. I majored in English and got a Master’s in English. It’s where I feel at home,” Hayden said.

For Hayden, the best part of teaching has always been sharing her love of literature with her students, especially showing kids how books can be used to enrich their lives.

“I’m a people person, I love being with people. I love helping students discover their strengths, and their capacity to fall in love with a book or write an amazing piece about themselves. I love the classroom community and every aspect of what it is to teach,” Hayden said.

English teachers Rob Primmer and Peter Sedlak have both known Hayden for over 15 years. Now working together in the English department, Hayden served as a mentor for both Primmer and Sedlak during their first years of teaching.

“Rebecca has served as an excellent model of what good teaching and the love of great literature looks like,” Primmer said.

Sedlak said Hayden’s biggest gift to the English department will always be her mentoring.

“She’s had a huge impact on this whole department. She has mentored more teachers in the last 20 years than anybody else. Rebecca has been a voice and a mentor that every new teacher has sought out and spent time with,” Sedlak said.

Sedlak said meeting with Hayden for the first time was an unforgettable experience that prepared him for teaching at the high school.

“She was so nice and gracious. The first time I went to her house, she made me a peach cobbler. You could tell right away: she was wise. I think she definitely teaches with her heart, and I’ve learned so much from her,” Sedlak said.

Hayden said it has been difficult to look over her class materials from her years-worth of teaching experience. Reflecting on precious moments, she said she will continue to look back at outstanding projects and essays.

“The moments when students have delighted me were with the depth of their insights or beautifully written essays. I cannot throw away any fantastic work that my students have done: amazing projects, graphic novels, and especially the essays,” Hayden said.

Primmer said Hayden’s influence extends to the entire English department.

“She’s brought together this space and the people in this room. The people here are closer because of her. The department is stronger because of her and her advocacy of literature,” Primmer said.

Hayden said she would like to be remembered for her passion and enthusiasm. Although difficult to leave, Hayden is confident that the English department rests in good hands.

“I hope to be remembered as a teacher who brought a lot of passion and joy to the classroom; that I was rigorous with my students but gave them the support they needed,” Hayden said. “I hope to be remembered as someone who really cared about this institution and each and every one of my students and colleagues.”