Matt Hayes becomes first-year events coordinator

As the newest addition to Johnson State College’s First-Year Experience Office, Matt Hayes brings his enthusiastic personality and a love for the arts to his position as first-year events coordinator.

Taking on this role means that Hayes is now in charge of event coordination for first-year seminars, creative audience and the common reading initiative – all areas where he is excited to explore a diverse spectrum of educational opportunities, especially those relating to music.

Hayes describes his small hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania as being beautiful, but not as opportunity-rich as the musician desired. While camping outside of Burlington, Vermont in 1999, Hayes found himself attracted to the atmosphere of the small city, and its prospects. The following year, he moved to Winooksi, Vermont, where he has lived for the past 10 years with his wife and 5-year-old son.

While working as a musician, Hayes travelled frequently. However, he took advantage of his time away from the road to explore other potential passions. “[The] thing about travelling as a musician is,” Hayes said, “when you’re home, you’re always looking for the opportunities to further make money to support yourself and just sort of, as a person, try to branch out and see what you’re interested in.”

This is when Hayes first started getting into substitute teaching. “I thought that it would be really great because I would give guitar lessons,” he said, “and I always enjoyed working with students in that sort of aspect, and I really enjoyed [substitute teaching].”

“Bit by bit as the years went on,” Hayes said, “I started to realize that I travelled a lot, say six weeks at a time, and that gets really hard when you’re rooted in a place. So I actually decided that maybe teaching would be the route that I would pursue.”
After receiving a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Vermont, Hayes began teaching at an alternative high school.

“Every one of the classes I had was very different and dynamic and very hands on,” said Hayes. “I taught there for two years and then I went into a public school, and I taught eighth grade for three years.”
However, teaching at this level required a degree of focus that Hayes was finding it difficult to accommodate while balancing being a father.

“You have to be focused,” Hayes said, “and I noticed 3 years of my son’s life just went and I felt like I needed to be more present.” This is where Hayes started exploring the position at JSC. Though his commute is about an hour, he said that the strong connection that he had with the other people in the office helped him to feel confident about his choice to accept the position.

Hayes also feels a pull toward the job itself. “I like the idea of being part of that transition period for people, and helping,” he said. “I really hope that this works out to be my dream job. My dream is to just feel good about what I’m doing.”

Hayes is also looking into exploring the campus radio station, 90.7 WJSC FM and the options that it holds for him to have a radio show. He said that he would be interested in hosting guests who are coming to campus on a show, and actively engage the JSC community with the station.
This is just one way that Hayes incorporates one life lesson that he believes is important into his own life. “Focus in on what you love and what can you do with it,” he said.