Courtesy of the Oakland Unified School District
When Arvella Hayden started working in the Oakland Unified School District, it was a whole different world. That year President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, won the World Heavyweight Championship, Beatlemania was all the rage when the Beatles released “I Want to Hold” Your Hand “a house averaged $ 13,050 and gasoline was 30 cents a gallon.
The year was 1964.
Hayden joined the OUSD family 57 years ago. Now, in 2021, she is stepping down from her job as a kindergarten teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. “I hate leaving the kids,” she said, but she knows the time is right.
Hayden began her career at the Arroyo Viejo Child Development Center, then taught at Lafayette Elementary before moving to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. She spent almost 40 years at Lafayette.
She was educated at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas and said it was clear early on that she would become a teacher. “My oldest sister was a teacher and she taught for 40 years. She was my role model. “
“If you just look at her and see the love she gives the kids, she’s just special … being a teacher for so long is a great gift,” said Dinah Castle, the school’s lunch director who has also been for more than 30 years working in Hayden’s class years. “That keeps them going. She loves children. She has no children, but they are her children. She looks forward to getting up every morning and coming here. ”
Throughout her career, Hayden has been fortunate to have worked at such great schools. “The parents were very nice. I had nice directors, nice teachers and everyone seemed like family. “
She adds that people were the secret to why she was able to do the job for so long. “Everyone, like I said, was easy to get along with and help one another… The community, the teachers and everything. It’s my family. “
“It is an honor and a privilege to work with an educator who has seen many decades of changes in the way students learn and the way the educational system works,” said Roma Groves-Waters, director of King Elementary. “I am very grateful to have worked with Arvella Hayden. She will be remembered as an icon by all teachers in America. “
Teaching three generations of Oaklanders, Hayden said she had the grandchildren of some of her original students in her classes. “When I’m out in the church, I love to see her and let her come and say, ‘Hello, Ms. Hayden. I remember you when you taught me. ‘ And that’s really good for me. “
“We’re celebrating Arvella Hayden, a true living legend,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “I started teaching in 1997 and by that time Ms. Hayden had been teaching for 33 years – which in itself is a remarkable career in education. She has meant as much to the West Oakland and Oakland community as a whole as she has meant to anyone in OUSD, and I cannot thank her enough for influencing the lives of so many students over the past half century and more. “
Arvella Hayden plans to spend her retirement traveling and spending time with her family.