“This history teacher is making history,” 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes told her supporters at a victory celebration in Waterbury last night. “I am honored to be your next congresswoman.”

Five months after announcing her candidacy, former Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes won her bid for Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District seat—defeating opponent Manny Santos by a margin of 148,000 to 116,000 votes. She will be the first African American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress.

“Your vote is your voice, and you used your vote and you used your voice to vote for me,” Hayes said, thanking supporters. “We need somebody in Congress who is us, who understands us, who understands what we’re going through.”

Drawing on tremendous support from fellow educators, Hayes was proudly endorsed by both CEA and NEA.

“Jahana is a shining example of exemplary educators who never give up,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “She has advocated for herself, has made a career advocating for her students, and is now advocating for all of us. We know she will have our best interests at heart, and our students will benefit greatly from her service. In Congress, she will stand up for public education and the rights of teachers and children. She is exactly who we need in Washington fighting for all of us.”

“I thank you for everything you’ve done, for volunteering, for phone banking, for frying chicken, for turning out. We started something,” Hayes told supporters.

CEA Treasurer and Waterbury Teachers Association President Kevin Egan and CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas congratulate Hayes last night after her win. (Click image for larger version)

“Jahana is a nation and community builder. She is the exact prescription we need for our country’s ills,” said CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who was present at Hayes’ celebration in Waterbury when the election results were announced. “She is the healer we need on the issues of education, healthcare, immigration, the economy, and so much more. Jahana knows how to bring community together!”

All five Congressional candidates named to CEA’s Honor Roll secured victories in this year’s election. In addition to Hayes, the pro-education Congressional slate includes Representatives Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, and John Larson, as well as Senator Chris Murphy.

CEA Treasurer and Waterbury educator Kevin Egan, also in attendance at last night’s celebration, added, “It was truly a great night. Teachers, parents, and other community members who care about the same issues came out in force and made sure to send Jahana Hayes to Washington to represent us. We were proud to help get her elected.”

Hayes begins her term on January 3, 2019.