Patience, knowledge and skill are just a few attributes required to make a difference and be a guiding light for others.

Being an essential part of a system that gives so many others their start in life, Southside Elementary School Principal Carmen Hayes has stood out in the process and was an obvious choice for Giles County’s Principal of the Year.

“She motivates others because of her outstanding work ethic and tireless work habits,” SES Assistant Principal Daryl Brindley said. “She has high, but not unrealistic, expectations for her students and staff and she is always willing to listen and help in any way.”

Hayes has been principal of SES since 2012. She previously taught eighth grade science at Bridgeforth Middle School for nine years and was an instructional coach traveling to schools within the district providing teacher support for a year.

CS-Carmen Hayes

“She is fair and consistent, supportive of staff, as well as students, and constantly encourages others to always do their very best in every situation,” SES Nurse Malori Vickers said. “We, at Southside, are so fortunate to have such an outstanding leader.”

Hayes received her K-8 teaching license in 2002 and Bachelor of Science in Education from Middle Tennessee State University. She acquired her administrator license after receiving her Master of Education and degree for administration in supervision in 2006 from MTSU and, in 2011, her Educational Specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

“Mrs. Hayes leads by example,” SES Guidance Counselor Hannah Tomerlin said. “She has been a great mentor to me and encouraged me to move from being a classroom teacher to being the school counselor.

“She has a way of seeing something in us that we do not see in ourselves.”

Hayes attributes her abilities to being “a product of the Giles County School System.”

“I have been in a Giles County school for 31 of my 40 years (excluding my five years before kindergarten and four years at MTSU),” Hayes said. “I am passionate about and committed to making Giles County schools the best around.

“I have been fortunate to work for and with the best educators for the past 19 years.”

She said her grandmother who taught third grade and other “wonderful teachers in Giles County,” who are too numerous to name, were great inspirations to her.

“However, Linda Mooney got me on the right path in kindergarten, and I loved school ever since,” Hayes insisted. “I will forever be indebted to Mike Luke and Jean Bryan for instilling a love for science.”

Hayes was raised on a full-time, working farm in the Bunker Hill community. Those work ethics are still strong today.

“When I think of Mrs. Hayes, I think of a person who is an exceptional leader,” third grade ELA teacher Katelyn Wear said. “Mrs. Hayes has the greatest work ethic that I have ever witnessed in a person.

“Even in the toughest of times, Mrs. Hayes leads the Southside family with grace, dignity and determination.”

Hayes and husband Jeremy have a 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, and 12-year-old son, Rhett.

“Yes, Mrs. Hayes is amazing — this isn’t new,” SES CDC teacher Christina Harris said. “I’m so proud that now others will see it, too.”

Still living in and contributing to the Bunker Hill area, Hayes and her family attend the Dellrose Church of Christ.

“Mrs. Hayes is a true example of a leader,” SES art teacher Matthew Orgeron said. “She works tirelessly to make all of the teachers and staff at Southside better prepared for each obstacle and day we approach throughout the school year.

“Our students and staff are beyond fortunate to have her as our principal.”

Hayes admits she does not have “a lot of free time,” but she and her family enjoy traveling and visiting “off the beaten path places.”

“Mrs. Hayes always says she works with the best at Southside, but the truth is, the reason we are ‘the best’ is because she leads by example and inspires us every day,” SES fifth grade ELA teacher Geneva Hughes said. “We are so lucky to have a fearless leader like Mrs. Hayes.”

Those who can, teach.

“Great leaders don’t tell you what to do, but they show you how it’s done,” Brindley concluded. “That in a nutshell is Carmen Hayes.”

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