‘Teacher of the Week’ enjoys sharing her passion for learning with first graders


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Kelly Hayes has been teaching for a very long time and she enjoys seeing her students’ eyes light up when she reads to them.

Having worked in education 27 years, this is her fourth year at Wrightsboro Elementary School and it’s her first year teaching first-grade students there.

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“I’ve just always enjoyed working with children and I just wanted to make a difference in children’s lives,” Hayes said.

A graduate of East Carolina University, Hayes says a number of people influenced her decision to become a teacher.

“My mother was very involved in the school when I was little and I just remember everything she did at school,” and she added, “I had a lot of teachers that inspired me.”

Recently, WWAY received a ‘Teacher of the Week’ nomination from a mother with a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, who says her son’s outlook on school has completely changed since he’s been in Hayes’ class.

“We just have to meet them where they are and help them grow,” Hayes said.

Because of her long career in education and dedication to keeping parents up-to-date about their children’s progress at school, we asked Assistant Principal Luis Cruz to help us surprise Hayes as WWAY’s ‘Teacher of the Week’ sponsored by Wilmington Granite.

One of the most rewarding things about teaching, Hayes says, is hearing from former students.

“It’s extremely touching when I know I’ve made a difference and they’ve remembered something I did for them,” she said.

“She’s an incredibly caring person,” said Cruz. “She gives 100 percent of herself on a daily basis.”

Her dedication to teaching often translates into long workdays.

“She’s doing well beyond the six and a half hour day that her students are here,” he said. “There’s an additional two, sometimes four hours after the school day in terms of getting ready for the next day, or making contacts those parents need to hear.”

So what does Hayes think about being recognized as ‘Teacher of the Week?’

“It makes me very emotional because I don’t feel I go above and beyond, I feel like I just do my job,” she said. “I am extremely honored and humbled because every teacher at this school deserves this.”

Click here if you would like to nominate someone to be considered for WWAY’s Teacher of the Week sponsored by Wilmington Granite. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card.