“She also does other things that are out of the ordinary, like stand on her desk with pompoms, chanting ‘1558,’ because of that key date in our history,” said Pace Head of Middle School John Anderson…. “She gets all the kids chanting it. They never forget it. … So many kids come away from that seventh-grade history experience saying it’s their favorite subject.”
This year, Hayes decided it is time to retire as seventh-grade U.S. history teacher and middle school girls’ dean, and move with her husband Buddy to Birmingham, Ala., where their daughter Sara lives with their newborn grandchild.
“It’s been, of course, a wonderful career here,” she said. “Once I got here [in 1972], I was 22 years old. I had good sense to remain here. … We have such wonderful students and families at Pace.”
Hayes said she has grown tremendously since she started, but always wanted to make learning fun.
“It’s been so great for me to stand up every day at my job to teach about something I so enjoy and something I think is important to know,” she said. “I dress up as Abe Lincoln on his birthday, Feb. 12. I have enjoyed wearing it and letting students see what a man and woman would wear in that time.”
She said she also enjoyed showing art and playing music from certain time periods in history.
“I’ve had history teachers that I found inspirational, and ones I found very boring — I would be so aggravated, asking, ‘Why are you making this interesting stuff boring?’” Hayes said. “I try to have a lot of stories and things for the time and let them have idea of what it might it feel like.”
Anderson said Hayes is the most responsible person he has ever known, and described her as the “ultimate gifted teacher.”
“She gives her heart and soul to her teaching and yearns for being in a classroom with kids,” he said.
Hayes said she will continue to share her love and knowledge of history with her family and others who cross her path.
“I’m going to take my grandchildren to Williamsburg, [Va.]” she said. “I told my daughter, ‘This little baby is going to get a personal history teacher.’”
She said she also looks forward to getting more rest and taking trips, including the retirement trip she and her husband planned out West in September.
“We’re very happy for her. She’s earned a happy retirement … It’s bittersweet,” Anderson said.
This year, the middle school established the B.J. Hayes Good Citizen Award, to give to one seventh-grade boy and girl, “in recognition of fine character as expressed by personal integrity, humility, diligence, friendliness and helpfulness,” he said.
The search for Hayes’ replacement started early, Anderson said, at the beginning of the fall.
“Nobody can replace her, of course, … but we knew it would take a good part of the year to find the best person possible because the standards are so high,” he said. “We did find an excellent teacher [Ginny Parrino]. … B.J. met with her countless times throughout the year to collaborate and pass the torch to try to continue the tradition.”
Parrino is coming from Awtrey Middle School in Kennesaw, where she taught social studies and language arts.