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Ms. Hayes’ passions include African culture, Vans and tattoos

By Victor Song 

An expansive Vans shoe collection makes an impression on Ms. Hayes’ classes, according to her students.  

“I think I started collecting Vans this summer,” Ms. Hayes, English teacher, said. 

Currently, she has 52 pairs. Ms. Hayes credits her massive collection to her desire to keep them in pristine condition. 

“I only wear them once,” Ms. Hayes. said “But it’s hard to wear them once, so that’s why I’m constantly buying.” 

And if you’re looking to buy Vans, Ms. Hayes is your go-to person. 

“I have bought 8 pairs of Vans for $255  because I buy them when they’re buy one get one half off or I find outlets when they’re buy one get one free,” she said. “I have never bought a pair of Vans over $60.” 

Despite being a master of buying Vans, Ms. Hayes buys them for unusual reasons. 

“They’re cheap. They’re not even fashionable. Some of them are so ugly I don’t have anything to wear to go with them,” she said. 

To put it simply, Ms. Hayes is obsessed with Vans. She has other interests, including her passion for African American culture, history and figures. Her interest sparked when she first picked up The Autobiography of Malcom X. 

Since then, African American culture has been deeply embedded into her life. 

She attended Ball State with a major in abnormal psychology and criminal justice to fuel her interest in learning about the Atlanta Child Murders – a case in the 1980’s where 29 African Americans were murdered by white supremacist groups.  

Ms. Hayes has also incorporated African American culture into her tattoos. 

“Usually, I try to get them all African-based because I love African culture and things like that,” she said. “My last one was a Black Panther tattoo. I’m a big quote fan, so when at the end of the movie Killmonger said ‘Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage’ that stuck with me. And eventually I’ll run upwards all the way on both arms [with tattoos].” 

Although she usually contemplates her decision before getting a tattoo, she didn’t waste time getting one to commemorate her grandmother when she passed away. 

“I always think about a tattoo for about a year. Except for this one on my right arm. My grandmother died a week before school started and this was one I wanted right away,” she said. 

Mrs. Hayes is popular with her students, perhaps because she is driven to share her enthusiasm not only with her son, Zaire, a junior at Snider, but also with students. 

“I have been doing African history [classes] since I started teaching, and actually really started with my son because he’s a young king. And I really wanted to make sure he knew who he exactly was. So I started with him, and everything I did with him I brought into my classroom,” she said. 

To Ms. Hayes’ dismay, the class she used to teach – African American studies – was eliminated from the FWCS curriculum two years ago. This setback did not deter her, however. 

“[Eliminating African American studies] leaves a hole. I see a hole where I’m like okay I can decorate the classrooms,” Ms. Hayes said. “I can decorate the doors, I can do the morning announcements, I can, you know, try and give as much as I can.” 

During Black History Month, Hayes displayed portraits of African American greats in the hallways and commons area and shared interesting facts. She also tries to actively involve students in African-based clubs. 

“I have an African American media club,” she said, “so we watch things that are African American TV shows and movies just to bring more awareness.” 

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