Katie Hayes has been named a recipient of The Catholic Foundation's Work of Heart Award.
Awardees are selected from nominations made by students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members.
"I was really surprised," said Hayes, who teaches Algebra and Geometry to sophomores. "I had no idea they were going to call my name, but it's an honor. The students are the reason I enjoy coming to work every day. I have supportive coworkers, and I work in a wonderful department."
The Work of Heart Award recognizes exceptional teachers who provide a Christian example and work tirelessly for students and the community.
Hayes graduated from Seton Hill University with a degree in Mathematics, and she always knew teaching was in her future. She helped her siblings with their math homework growing up in Pittsburgh. She has four siblings and is also a triplet.
"I realized I always had a passion for mathematics," said Hayes, who is in her third year at Ursuline. "My students will tell you I love factoring quadratics. My goal is for students to gain more confidence in math. Even if math isn't their favorite subject, I try to create a positive learning environment."
When Hayes isn't teaching, she's fulfilling another love — sports. She's been an assistant coach for Junior Varsity Soccer for two years and Cross Country for one year. Hayes played college soccer at Seton Hill in Pennsylvania.
"Soccer has been a passion of mine throughout my life, but I've really learned to love cross country," she said. "Since we run with the students, they see us working alongside them. They love talking about anything and everything."
Hayes will return to Connecticut for the Global Youth Leadership Institute Year 1 trip this summer. She will also travel to Wimbledon to visit Ursuline's sister school in England.
Her advice for students is always the same. Stay confident and keep laughing.
"They need to trust their abilities and continue working hard," she said. "The rest will fall in place."