A CONVERSATION WITH... mrs. kathleen hazen
In this Raising Yuma Families Spotlight... we meet Mrs. Kathleen Hazen, a second-grade teacher at Alice Byrne Elementary School.
How did you become a teacher in Yuma?
I grew up on the beautiful shores of Cape Cod, along the Maryland coastline. Later, I attended college in Boston, and there
I met my future husband, who just so happened to be an Arizona Wildcat alumnae! He coaxed me to come visit Arizona, by first introducing me to Sierra Vista, where we lived for several years and I taught at Nova School (I later learned, it was started by a woman from Cape Cod!!)
When my husband was granted a transfer, we moved to Yuma. I will never forget that drive! We were really moving to the desert...no grass, no trees, no people out and about in August! What was I thinking!? Moving to Yuma in August was like visiting a ghost town! Luckily, we moved into the Alice Byrne neighborhood, where we quickly became friends with many wonderful families! I first taught in the Crane District and loved the family atmosphere, working under the supervision of Dan Brannon, Lynn Thompson and Helen Coffeen, As my two young boys were growing older, I thought it might be wise to teach in my own school neighborhood so they could befriend their peers. Thanks to Juli Peach, who hired me to teach at Alice Byrne back in 2002, I have been teaching at Alice Byrne ever since, and loving every moment!
What is a typical day like for you?
As an elementary school teacher, no day is very typical! You can have the best planned day, but what actually happens can change at any moment! Teachers constantly adjust their lesson plans to accommodate our students’ varying needs! I rise every morning to walk 3-6 miles with my husband, Tom, who walks a minimum of 6+ miles a day for ACS. I am a cancer survivor and support his efforts of walking to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
When I arrive at school, I look forward to opening my classroom door for my students, as well as many former students who come by for a visit, to share a story, help out with a chore, or to receive a hug. A little morning boost can go a long way! Throughout my day, I am completely focused on motivating my students to be the best they can be, delivering engaging rigorous lessons, and helping my students to reach their goals. After work, I enjoy a quick dip in the pool and a quiet dinner with my husband, sharing tales of our day’s encounters. We also enjoy eating out, going to the movies, and participating in all the great outdoor events that Yuma has to offer!
What do you love most about your job?
There are so many things that I love about my job! First of all, I love being that person whom my students first see in the morning and to make a positive impact on their day! I want to greet each student with a high five and welcoming hug, to reassure them that we will have a great day of learning together! At the end of each day, I love hearing my students’ reflections on the day: What worked well today? What can we do better tomorrow? I feel honored and privileged to be working with such dedicated colleagues that create such a positive workplace environment at my school! We value the aspect that we, as a team, are striving for student achievement. We rely on each other to share strategies, ideas, and resources to strengthen our commitment to improve the lives of our students. What do I love most about my job…..my students and my colleagues! They enrich my life and inspire me to be a better person in so many ways!
If you could give any advice to parents, what would it be?
My advice to parents is to spend quality time with your children.
Put down your cell phones and iPads. Live in the present! Be engaged! Have conversations with your children. Talk about their day. Ask specific questions about what they learned at school today. Who did they play with at recess? What story did they read at school? Ask them to give you a thumbs up and a thumbs down about their day. Read with your child every night. Be involved!
Where is your favorite place to be?
This is a tough question to answer! I grew up by the ocean, which I absolutely love! My husband and I love to travel, and together we have seen some amazing places including 48 U.S. states, 16 states throughout Mexico; 32 counties of Ireland, Guatemala, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales; and Spain. But no matter where we travel, my heart is with my family! I am just as happy sitting with my family in my backyard in Yuma, Ariz., as I am in traveling the globe! What is important to me is that my family is #1.
So I guess my favorite place is any place surrounded by family! I also love spending time with my extended family on Cape Cod each summer! The place is not as important as the people you are with! Make every moment count!
Tell readers something about yourself no one would have guessed.
Who would have ever guessed that I used to be a bouncer, dressed as a leprechaun, at an Irish Pub on Cape Cod?! At 5 foot two, eyes of blue, who would reckon with me?! Well, I stood tall, checked ID’s, told them where to park…or where to go!! Some of those leadership skills still stick with me today, but in a more moderate form!
What are your passions or hobbies?
Overall, my passion is to live a good life, to make a positive difference on those whom I come in contact with, and to see the best in others. We need to make a positive impact while we still can! Smile, compliment others on their good deeds, lend a helping hand, ask how you can help...reach out to others who may not be as fortunate as you are! Make a difference in someone’s life! If you do this, you will have made a positive difference in the world today! We can improve life, one step at a time!
What are your favorite foods?
Growing up on Cape Cod, you would think that my favorite foods were seafood, right? Well, my dad, was a lobsterman, clam and scallop man... all by hobby. What a lucky daughter was I? Ha! Whenever I smelt that butter melting in the kitchen, I knew that I needed to make a peanut butter sandwich, as seafood was not my favorite growing up!! As I moved away from Cape Cod, I appreciated good fresh seafood more than ever, and I look back on those days of fresh lobsters, clams, and scallops... can’t find those in many places in Yuma!
Moral of the story: Love the local foods wherever you are! I have learned to love and appreciate good Mexican food here in Yuma...they don’t know how to serve that on Cape Cod...but they keep trying!