“My big point with my students and my staff is that we’ve got to be strong citizens,” she said. “Academics are certainly important, but at the top of that list if we are good people making positive choices in the lives with others, we are accomplishing things.”
Bob Sikes is a Title I school that receives federal funding for the economically disadvantaged and Hayden knows the importance of making sure those students have their needs met.
Hayden’s face lights up when she talks about the school community of students, parents and staff.
“I couldn’t ask for better (support),” she said. “My parents are supportive. My kids are pretty supportive and of course my staff is.
“Challenge wise, I think more than anything, we have some attendance issues that we are work on with our students.”
There are currently 813 students enrolled at Bob Sikes. A few years ago that number was close to 900, but the school district sent 100 students to Walker Elementary to help alleviate some of the overcrowding at the school.
You do have more fluid movement than we’ve had in the last few years. So that’s a challenge when students are coming and going. We were a school that was approaching 900 students several years ago so about 100 of our students went over to Walker Elementary. As subdivisions continue to spring up around the school and across Crestview, Hayden expects to start seeing growth in the school again.
Bob Sikes wasn’t hit hard by Covid during the 2020-2021 school year, but the start of this year got off to a tough start with several teachers and students missing school because of illness during the first nine weeks of the academic year. The school has been back on track for several months now and everything is running as to be expected.
One thing Hayden has noticed in the post-Covid return to normal is the way students have to again learn how to communicate within the classroom setting.
“Academically what we are finding is our students are not as comfortable with the freedom to talk. They got so used to being online that communicate through technology and not through spoken words,” she said. “We are having to back up a little bit and teach what expectations are when working in a small group, how we treat each other, how we respond to each other, asking those questions. It’s called, “Student Talk.”
As is the case with most schools in Okaloosa County, Bob Sikes has a large number of students from military families.
“We are probably close to 50 percent are military,” Hayden said. “We have the first military club in the district and we are proud of that. It gives us an opportunity for our non-military families to work with our military families so they can begin to understand when their parent is deployed, and this child is upset, why they are upset.”
The school day for Bob Sikes students ends at 2 p.m., but there are plenty of after school clubs to keep students busy until 4 p.m. when many of their parents get off work. The school has a variety of clubs including student government, running club, spin club, math club, art club and robotics. All of the clubs help build the community feel within the school.
Hayden loves her school and is thankful for the support of those that make up the Bob Sikes family.
“I’m proud of the overall understanding and compassion that families continue to give us in our environment,” she said. “As things changed other schools opened up their cafeteria earlier than we did. They (parents) didn’t go out and talk badly about us.
“I’m proud of the understanding and compassion that our families continue to provide us. Every day is still a loving experience.”