Meet the Educators Running for Office in 2018

Jahana Hayes, seen above, who was the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, this week won the Democratic primary for Representative in Connecticut’s 5th district. She secured 62.2 percent of the vote to defeat Mary Glassman, who was backed by the state’s Democratic party.

If Hayes wins in November, she will be the first black woman from the state in Congress. 

Who is Jahana Hayes? As a Waterbury, CT, history teacher with no political experience, her story does not follow the ‘regular’ pattern of people running for office. 

She was raised by her grandmother in a Waterbury housing project, became pregnant at 17, and eventually worked her way through community college and state university systems to graduate from Southern Connecticut State in 2005.

She taught history at Kennedy High School in Waterbury, which is where she was nominated by colleagues as the National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and is currently supervisor of professional development for Waterbury Public Schools.

Here’s how Hayes explains her decision to enter political life:

“My students were all working and I looked down at them and said, ‘Who will speak for them? Who will share their story with the world?’ And I said ‘Me’ and decided I was going to run for Congress.”

“102 days ago, we started this campaign with no money, no network, and no people. They told me I had no chance, and I had no business trying,” Hayes wrote on Facebook after winning the election. “Tonight we proved them wrong.”

Hayes will face Republican Manny Santos in November. Santos is a strong supporter of Trump, while Hayes has promised to challenge Trump’s agenda.

Hayes is following a trend where women are being told they need to go through ‘the  pipeline’ before they can run for political office, but they are jumping ahead and refusing to follow that advice.

“People told me I had no chance and I had no business trying to do this,” Hayes said after her success

This is very exciting! But Hayes is not the only educator making political waves. On the same day that she won the Democratic primary in Connecticut’s 5th district, Wisconsin state Superintendent Tony Evers captured the Democratic nomination for governor in his state. Governor Scott Walker is not pleased.

And U.S. Representative Tim Walz, also a former teacher, won the Democratic nomination for governor of Minnesota.

Teachers are on the rise.

But there’s more: According to an Education Week analysis, at least 157 current teachers have filed to run for office in their state legislature this fall.

Hayes is one of the few teachers running for U.S. Congress. If she succeeds, she will join a select club of former teachers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Patty Murray.

These inspiring examples highlight the importance of public school teachers. In my 25 years of teaching, I have seen many similarly smart, enthusiastic and driven instructors. And I am proud to witness this political trend.


Image credit: Jahana Hayes, Facebook page


Marie W
Marie W5 days ago

Thank you for sharing

Hannah K
Past Member 6 months ago

I wish them well

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga6 months ago


Angela K
Angela K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Margie FOURIE6 months ago

Educators and politicians are a misnomer.

Ann B
Ann B6 months ago


Karen Swenson
Karen S6 months ago

For all those who whine about Ms Hayes not being qualified--TELL ME, what imbecile is even remotely qualified for their job in the Trump administration, including and especially Trump!? Don't hear you, all of a sudden, worried and concerned about them.

David C
David C6 months ago


Anne M
Anne M6 months ago

Ms Hayes sounds like a very good contender: good luck Johana !!

Winn A
Winn Adams6 months ago

I hope Hayes wins.