From teaching wellness to singing Elvis songs, Mr. Hayes can be seen walking the halls of Peabody High as he makes his way from the gym to his health class and back. Many students are curious about his life as most of his lessons are filled to the brim with information he has learned over the years. With this in mind, we decided to go right up to him with our most paramount questions and learn about a teacher who has been a favorite of many. Here are his answers:
1. What’s the best advice you've ever received?
I think the best advice I've ever received is to basically stay in the moment. I live in 1-3 second intervals because of my insomnia issues. Probably the best advice is that I have to try to contain all my thoughts into a 1-3 second interval. It’s hard to do, but I have been practicing it a long time, so I’m getting better and better at it. And I get better and better each year because if I get too far ahead of myself, my brain takes photographs of things I’ve done in the past and it keeps replaying them. And it also takes photographs of things I want to do so I project all the time or reflect all the time, so it’s best when I just narrow that field of vision or thought down to the moment, without judgment, or without time, and then I can exist.
2. Why did you become a teacher?
So I could beat students at badminton and talk trash. No, my brother was a teacher and my sister is involved in education also and my parents valued it. It seemed like a pretty good way to help some people, to have some fun, and to get paid doing it. Also, in the background further down the list, because I have a lot of adventures, having the summer off allows me to take my adventures to a different level. And I worked in the corporate world for 13 years or so and a 1-2 week vacation doesn’t really cut it. That cuts into your adventures because you can only have so many days of your life where you get to do something exciting.
3. What’s the best part of being a teacher?
My students in sixth period Phys Ed. No, the best thing is when someone learns something that they were really struggling with. A lot of people don’t do well in fat bat, but I teach them a technique and then they are really happy. But also in health I’ve had a number of students, especially females, come up and say “That abuse unit changed my relationship; I was being abused and I rectified that, I modified that, I made changes in that.” And in some cases, they got away from a dangerous person. Also, you hope you help somebody with drug addiction, alcohol addiction, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, vaping. So as a result, you won’t know how many people you’ve affected, but you do. I know in Ms. Gaffney’s case, her and I helped a girl that was very, very sad about her body and her appearance to the point where we worried about her being suicidal. And I did about 10% of the work and Ms. Gaffney did 90, and the girl comes back in and still thanks us. I helped another student who was a dyslexic and insomniac and he graduated college and he’s going to be an attorney now. So that is really cool when you get to help somebody out and they get to learn something they can use as a life skill.
4. Are there any words of wisdom you received from a teacher in the past that you want to share?
The standard one is never give up. I know Winston Churchill often gets credit for that, but I’ve had teachers say never give up, just never give up, never give up. Never give up is the actual phrase from Winston Churchill. And they used it to help me. If you fail, you can do it over again. That’s the beauty of education. If you make a mistake, you do have an eraser in life, a delete button on the machines.
5. How do you feel about the new attendance policy?
I like it, but in my opinion, 80% of success in life is showing up. That’s from the director Woody Allen. 80% of success in life is just showing up. You have to show up for your job, you have to show up for your relationships. If you’re a parent, you certainly have to show up for the baby and for your teenage son or daughter who did something bizarre and now they need your help to get out of it. Everything you have in life you have to show up for. You have to show up to eat your three meals a day. So what happens by not allowing people to show up and having a major impact, I think that’s setting people up for failure because the quicker you learn that in life, whether it’s showing up or doing at least 80% of your homework. I think that is such a key component of success that I think the student attendance policy should reflect that you showed up. We are here to prepare people for life. That is one of the most critical skills of life. And if you don’t show up in anything, you’ll eventually fail at it.
6. What do really think of the Vision of the Graduate?
I think it’s good. We try so many new things and then they eventually kind of fade off, but I think this will stick around for a while. I think it has to be implemented, but not over-saturated into everything. You brush your teeth in the morning, you’re a pathfinder. You’re a global thinker, you’re spitting the water on the ground instead of into the pipes. It has to be there as a foundational base, but not done to the point where it just wears the person’s brain out, the poor students in every period.
7. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever witnessed?
The funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my whole life? A friend of mine works for Kahn’s Meats and Hillshire Farm Meats. We were playing a card game, a board game actually, Monopoly. And he left early and he worked for their advertising department and he put on a nine-foot hot dog suit. The house we were playing the game in is allegedly haunted and I creep out easily. So he went to his car, waited a whole half hour, screamed and smashed the front door. When I opened it, he jumped out of the dark with a nine-foot hot dog suit of foam rubber, and I punched him right in the face and kicked him in the chest through the screen door. And the 8 people that I grew up with playing this game, we’re still laughing about it decades later. We had problems with our stomach muscles for about four or five days. I laughed so hard. I can’t even bring the story up, and everybody brings it up when we go fishing or golfing. I can’t imagine ever laughing that hard again. We literally laughed for two hours. One kid started to throw up, my brother fell down. They were laughing so hard, people cried. And we still are laughing decades later.
8. If you could go back and change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?
Oh gosh. There are so many things I would like to change. I have been exceedingly blessed with many things, but I’d like to have more hair. I would like to sleep a little better because I think that would’ve been affecting my attitude in life. I try to keep a positive attitude, but there are times where privately it’s difficult. When I was younger, I played hockey, and it was a different time. I probably would like to eliminate some of my fighting as a young person. Sometimes fights find you and nobody ever wins. Even when you win them, you lose because you hurt somebody. This was when I was a little kid and when you win, you feel bad you hurt somebody. When you lose, you feel even worse. I would probably like to have some more hair, sleep better, and have been in less fights as a child.
9. What’s your favorite movie or show?
Well, I was fortunate enough to be in the movie Rudy, so I’m in the background. That’s one of my favorite movies. I’ve also really loved the original Star Wars trilogy, to me it’s riveting, and all nine of the original stories from George Lucas fascinate me. The last one will be released later this month in December and I can’t wait to see it. I also like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those are two of my favorites. I would say Braveheart is a fascinating movie. And for adult dialogue, I think Silence of the Lambs is a fascinating movie because of the rich plot. And maybe Saving Private Ryan because of the men and women that died during WWII and my father was wounded and missing in action, so that’s important to me. And then I would have to say after that, there’s an old movie called The Quiet Man which was filmed in Ireland and I stayed in the same castle where they filmed it and it’s a great story. So those are probably my favorite movies.
10. And last but not least, what is your favorite joke to tell?
In school or out of school? In school when the boys are rambunctious in the locker room and acting, shall we say kind of crazy, especially in October, I always say “Hey, take your mask off, Halloween isn’t for two weeks.” I have been using the same joke on the same kids for four years, but some of them still don’t get it like “Mr. Hayes, I don’t have a mask on.” So that’s one of the funniest ones in school.