Inside Scoop: Vera Hazlett


Bree Soule, Online Editor in Chief

At a middle school in Ohio, right outside of Cleaveland, Vera Hazlett walked through the halls of her new school as a seventh grader with her head held low.

“They would make fun of me because I was so quiet,” Hazlett said. “I wouldn’t even look up. When I walked through the halls I just kept my eyes down and looked at the floors. I just walked.”

Hazlett lived with her mom growing up, although people would frequently mistake her grandparents for her parents. She lived in a large immigrant area, far out into the suburbs. Hazlett was very shy growing up and didn’t like to talk much with people she wasn’t close with.

“The few people that talked to me when I was new at that school, they really made a difference,” Hazlett said. “Just to have someone be nice to you during the day, and I still talk to them. But in that same capacity, we just talk and then go on our way. So it was nice. They were really nice to me. Those kids were not.”

Hazlett didn’t feel like she fit in growing up. She had friends who lived on one side of town living a traditional lifestyle while the other half who lived in another part of town were “more like her.”

“I guess because I was the first one in our family to grow up that way, so I think that’s why because it wasn’t very clear back then,” Hazlett said.

After she graduated from high school, Hazlett discovered her love for teaching and went to Ohio University to pursue a teaching career. This ultimately led her to meet her now husband her junior year in an African American Poetry class; where she knew him as the class jerk.

“I sat down and there was this jerk in the corner who just made fun of everyone for everything,” Hazlett said. “So I never spoke in that class. It was a great class, but I never said anything because I didn’t want him to make fun of me.”

In the next semester, Hazlett took an 18th century poetry class that this “jerk” was in as well.

“I sat next to him. because I thought “maybe he won’t make fun of me if I’m next to him” because I could reach out to hit him,” Hazlett said. “Another girl sat next to him for the same reason and we both thought that the other one knew him because we both had just started like talking to him, which was really strange. But from that point forward, we were just kind of friends. He went to Africa for a semester to teach and I really missed him. I guess that was kind of when I realized I had feelings for him.”

Her husband has since lost his “jerk” nickname and Hazlett now describes him with kind words.

“He’s very outspoken and so funny,” Hazlett said. “He likes to just argue. It’s funny to him to argue and make people upset.”

Although their love story started off on the wrong foot, they now have a seven year old daughter together who they like to spend a lot of time with.

“I would love to say [my life outside of teaching] is very cool, but it’s not because neither my husband or daughter are quiet,” Hazlett said. “I’m the quiet one, but we do a lot of work with our daughter. She’s autistic and so we’re working to take her to things that she enjoys and can learn from. I spend a lot of time doing that each week and other kinds of therapies. She’s getting ready to start soccer. So I guess I’ll be a soccer mom.”

Not only will she soon be a soccer mom, but previously when Hazlett taught baking classes, the Wilton company recognized Hazlett as one of their best teachers. They were moved by a note one of Hazletts students wrote; it was written by a grandmother who was chaperoning her 10-year-old granddaughter in an adult class.

“The grandmother was just so impressed that I made the little girl not feel like she shouldn’t be there and I made her feel like she should be there like everyone was and getting attention in a difficult class,” Hazlett said. “I didn’t win, but I think the people who won deserved it. I was just honored that someone thought that I would even be like those people because wow, they’re great.”

Hazletts teaching career hasn’t always come easy, however. During the economic recession, Hazlett applied for approximately 70 teaching positions— only landing one interview in which she didn’t do good at.

“By that point, I felt so bad about myself,” Hazlett said. “I didn’t do well. I really felt horrible about myself and thought “I’m a good teacher, like what’s going on?” But it was mostly because it was a terrible time in the economy. Teachers weren’t leaving so no one wanted to hire me.”

Hazlett managed to get another interview for a teaching position at Carman Ainsworth where she got the job and taught there for five years.

“I had to drive three hours a day to teach high school English and that was very hard,” Hazlett said. “We couldn’t sell our house or move. It was a very terrible time just because I was exhausted. I used to get up at four and leave at five then get home at like six or seven and I had to read papers still. So that was very hard, but it worked out and I bought a house in downtown Fenton. We fixed it up and then we sold that house and now I’m here.”

Hazlett has been working as an English teacher at Fenton High for four years now after being in and out of other teaching positions throughout the years.

“I genuinely love teaching,” Hazlett said. “I like being around teenagers. I think they’re wonderful but I believe a lot of people don’t think teenagers are wonderful— which I say that’s dumb. I might like teenagers better than adults because they’re learning there.”

Hazlett went from being quiet and shy in school to now being an outgoing teacher, even if she is quiet outside of teaching.

“I think one job to be good at it is you have to constantly tell yourself what you’re not good at and be okay with that. You have to be like, okay, I can be better tomorrow or I can be better in 60 minutes, I can be better in an hour. So that’s hard and you have to learn to be very critical of yourself, but not being mean to yourself.”

Hazlett is a homebody type of person and currently loves to work on her vegetable garden, which she learned from her grandma. Her old hobbies continue to live on as she is also working to master pies. She plans to continue her teaching career as her love for it has continued growing day by day.