Central Florida educators answer ‘Why I Teach’ call

‘It’s an amazing feeling,’ Andrew Hayes said

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – All month News 6 is celebrating the work of our local teachers, asking them why they teach.

This week we take you to Osceola County to meet Andrew Hayes. Hayes teaches marine science and AP Biology at Osceola High School. Hayes tells News 6 Anchor Julie Broughton that during the pandemic, he and some colleagues decided to apply for a grant.

After they received the first one, they kept going.

“So we said ok, ‘can we try for a second one?’ So we kind of took the first grant and amplified it. And got the second. Then we went for a third grant,” Hayes said.

Add in a fourth grant, and Hayes received almost $20,000 for his students. That money helped fund around 15 tanks, where students get hands-on experiences with marine life.

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“It really focuses on our local watersheds connecting to the Everglades. So the vast majority of the animals here are either native to Florida or have a really close relative that lives in Florida. Ok so nitrates are high? What causes that? Then we talk about farms and runoff, and pollution in the waterways. Then we talk about algae blooms...and it all kind of connects for them,” he said.

Hayes began his career in research. He says he never really imagined becoming a teacher. Now, as he begins his ninth year in the classroom, he says hearing students’ reactions to his classes never gets old.

“Just hearing the ‘awwws.’ A lot of kids even during the school year will just walk by the classroom and try to figure out how to get the class the next year. So they don’t even have to be in the class to kind of want to get into the classroom.  It’s an amazing feeling. And I still get some of those kids who are like why am I in this class? But at the end of the day, if I can just get them to start to see how fun science is and not so much the work aspect, I can still get them turned around,” he said.

If you or a loved one is an educator, we’d love to hear the passion behind your career! Fill out a form on here and your response may be featured on News 6!

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About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.