Nick Hayes: Behind the Scenes


Madisen Maxa

Nick Hayes assists a forensic science student with homework in class.

Nick Hayes has taught at Kennedy for years, yet most students don’t see the other side of his life. Hayes not only deals with teaching and coming up with lesson plans, but he also is juggling running spring musicals and going back to school to become a therapist. 

Hayes has been teaching at Kennedy for 12 years and is the main theater director. He’s returned to school to gain a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and finds interest in learning about relationship dynamics.

“I always wanted a master’s degree in something,” Hayes said. “For a long time, I thought it would be education, but it ended up being in the mental health field.” 

The task of becoming a therapist requires him to do a minimum of 300 hours of clinical work, usually working 6 a.m sessions before school begins. This makes it difficult to balance all of the aspects of his life.

“I’m the kind of person who enjoys that switch, always have been,” Hayes said. “Going from being a therapist to being a teacher, to being a theater director, teaching outside of school [and] back to being a therapist at night.”

For anyone, the task can be daunting. Hayes carries these responsibilities and still manages to make time for students both as a teacher and a director.

“He obviously taught me things from his classes, like how stoichiometry works and how long it takes for a body to decompose,” junior Cael Cummins said. “He taught me how to project better on stage and how to direct attention to another actor without saying anything. I think the most important thing he taught me was self-confidence and self-acceptance.”

Hayes always manages to find those joys and passion for what he is doing, despite the level of difficulty and effort it takes. 

“A lot of people think I’ve [gone back to school] because I don’t like teaching,” Hayes said. “That’s not true. Weirdly, going back to school in this other field, I’m finding I love it. There are certain aspects of therapy, sitting with someone and helping them navigate the changes they want in their life, it’s just really amazing. Since I put so much focus there, it made me really enjoy certain aspects of teaching. It’s like stepping away a little, even in my own mind.”

Hayes creates a positive atmosphere in the classroom and on the stage. He helps to provide others with opportunities of their own, including his students, performers, and those he assists in the clinic. 

“I feel like a lot of what we do as teachers provide the opportunity for students to achieve really cool things,” Hayes said. “I try to help offer these opportunities to students.”

Hayes puts massive amounts of work and effort into his career as an educator and director. It’s important to recognize that kind of hard work. Hayes is a teacher whom students can look up to and admire the dedication he places into teaching and school.