Jahana Hayes, national teacher of the year, Congress

Jahana Hayes wants to make history by becoming the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress.

The 45-year-old history teacher is looking to change her career and enter political office. She told the Hartford Courant that her experience “living in the margins” makes her qualified to be a politician.

“I know what it’s like to go to bed to gunshots outside, I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning to a dead body in the hallway,’’ she told the audience at the Washington forum, according to the Courant.  “No job gives you that kind of experience. Life gives you that kind of experience.”

In 2016, President Barack Obama honored Hayes by naming her the national Teacher of the Year.

“In 2016 many people know I was named National Teacher of the Year, but what you don’t know is that in 2015, I was turned down for three promotions, that work that I was doing was not recognized … I was disappointed and hurt but I made a commitment to the people in Waterbury to educate their kids and I worked harder that year than I ever did in my whole career,’’ she said to the crowd at the Washington forum.

Hayes is seen as an inspiration to her supporters, including her cousin Malika Watson, who said she was never into politics.

She’s a role model for all of us,’’ Watson told the Courant. “She was in the projects but she found her way out of there and look at her now!”

Hayes faces Mary Glassman in the Aug. 14 Democratic Primary for the 5th district seat.



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