Outstanding Grad “gives from the heart and gives her all”
Elizabeth Haynes still remembers her daughter Chloe coming home from middle school upset by what happened to a schoolmate during a fire drill.
Chloe said the child, who was in special ed, had a hard time with the loud noises and a teacher was yelling at him.
“I’m sure the teacher knew what she was doing, but Chloe was so upset by it,” Haynes said. “She said, ‘Mom, I knew I’d get in trouble if I left my line, but I wanted to go comfort that kid.”
She also wanted to tell the kid’s parents what happened.
Empathy, leadership and pursuit of social justice have been through lines throughout the young life and academic career of Chloe Haynes, this year’s Outstanding Liberal Studies Graduate for the Cal State Long Beach College of Education.
In the community, Haynes has been a youth leader and mentor. At CSULB, she’s been a peer advocate, honors fellow and student ambassador, helping students cope and connect during the pandemic, developing curriculum to combat sexual violence, and encouraging young people to teach.
On Wednesday, Haynes will add a new title to her already packed resume: commencement speaker. She's excited to cheer on her fellow graduates.
“I’m really proud to be from Long Beach and to go to Cal State Long Beach,” Haynes said. “It means a lot to me to be able to represent that.”
Haynes is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. She just student-taught in second grade and wants to continue teaching in an elementary school.
She says teachers have always been a big influence in her life, especially the fourth-grade one whose persistence helped lead to her dyslexia diagnosis. Haynes’ two moms, Elizabeth Haynes and Kim Schneider, thought there was something missing in their daughter’s educational development, but school officials kept saying everything was fine.
“I remember my fourth-grade teacher being like, ‘If she’s fine, then why is she two grade levels ahead in every subject except reading?’” Haynes said.
Haynes grew up in a social justice-minded household. Both of her moms worked in public service, Haynes for the city and Schneider in county social services.
They talked openly about Schneider’s work against human trafficking and took Chloe and her older sister, Amelia, to rallies against Proposition 8, the California same-sex marriage ban.
Since high school, Haynes has risen the ranks at the California Conference for Equality and Justice, a Long Beach nonprofit that works to eliminate bias, bigotry and racism through education and youth leadership development.
It hosts three-day overnight camps for high school students to learn about and explore issues related to racism, oppression and sexism. They dive gender and racial pay inequity, white guilt and the duality of privilege, meaning someone can be disadvantaged in one sense but advantaged in another.
“You want participants to walk away with an understanding of the society they’re growing up in, to want to change it and to be a better ally,” Haynes said.
Haynes has promoted from camper to peer leader to youth leader to peer mentor and now youth coordinator, assuming greater roles of responsibility planning activities, leading discussions and developing new leaders.
She even spent her 21st birthday at camp instead of with her friends, said Kathleah Pagdilao, the director of learning and leadership at CCEJ.
“She really connects with people and listens to people, and when things get challenging, she centers herself and remembers why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Pagdilao said. “She’s very focused on creating the best experience for everyone.”
Haynes is not at all nervous about speaking in front of nearly 500 graduates and 6,000 guests at Angel Stadium Wednesday. She has been acting, singing and performing improv for years, which also helps in the classroom.
“My second graders don’t want boring, serious teacher,” Haynes said. “They want a funny teacher who will do voices when she reads.”
As an honors fellow “during the COVID times,” Haynes helped students connect to the campus and each other through virtual events. They brought together students in similar academic programs and sought answers to questions students were reluctant to bring up to “adults.”
Haynes also masterminded an honors prom outside the dorms for students who didn't get a high school prom because of COVID, said Sandra Pérez, director of University Honors.
“She put in a lot of time and effort to make that happen, and it spoke to the sense of loss students felt not being able to attend their high school prom,” Pérez said. “She’s a person who always gives from the heart and gives her all.”
When Haynes was in interACT, a CSULB social justice performance troupe, she learned about the increased risk of sexual assault on college campuses, the importance of teaching the meaning of consent, and the imperative to stop victim-blaming.
“Whoa, why was I not told any of this in my life?” she thought.
So, for her honors thesis, Haynes created a sexual assault-awareness curriculum for high school students. She aligned it with English standards since teachers are so focused on following standards.
For example, she suggested students read and analyze works by security specialist Gavin de Becker, author of the best seller "The Gift of Fear."
Haynes has also helped grow the local teacher workforce as a College of Ed student ambassador, meeting with community college students to explain Long Beach's many teacher-preparation pathways and holding workshops for transfer students and on scholarship opportunities.
She has even stood outside the Hall of Science asking students if they want to be science teachers.
“We have one of the best programs in the state for education. We're also a public school, so it’s very affordable, and teachers are not paid what they should be,” Haynes said of her pitch to students.
"So, if you have a degree from Harvard, or you have a degree from Cal State Long Beach, it doesn’t matter that much in end except ultimately, Cal State Long Beach is going to give you a lot less debt.”
Pagdilao at CCEJ happens to be a onetime College of Education Outstanding Liberal Studies Graduate just like Haynes, meaning she knows about good teachers. She says Haynes will be a great one.
“I would love to be a student in her classroom,” Pagdilao said. “She’s going to bring so much energy and compassion that, nowadays especially, are so needed.”