Columns, Our Neighborhood

Jean Hackett is a Teacher and Volunteer Extraordinaire

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Hackett receives her Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from President Reagan in 1983.

A Vermonter, Jean Hackett grew up in Albany.

At Craftsbury Academy (CA), she wrote for and then became editor of the school paper, served on the student council, and represented the Academy at Green Mountain Girls State.

She played saxophone in the band, sang in the choirs, and was chosen to attend the Vermont Music Festival.

She became a star basketball player, edited the yearbook her senior year, and won the CA “Outstanding Student Cup.”

Teaming up with Gail Burnham, she won the cross-cut saw competition in the CA winter festival.

Naturally, she graduated as valedictorian of her class.

In 2011, the Orleans, Northeast, and Essex (ONE) Athletic Hall of Fame included her.

After graduating from UVM in 1964, she became a math teacher and in 1970, accepted the job as head of the brand-new Hazen Union High School’s (HU) math department.

In 1979, the Hazen Union chapter of the National Honor Society named her “Teacher of the Year.”

In 1980, The Vermont chapter of the math teachers’ professional organization named her Vermont Math Teacher of the Year.

By 1983, the White House had heard about her and included her as one of the first winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics or Science Teaching, presented by President Reagan. That award carried a $5,000 honorarium, which she spent on taking other members of the Hazen faculty to a state-wide teacher’s conference at Vermont Technical College in Randolph.

In 1985, Hackett took to the stage as “Sleeping Beauty” in the first annual faculty shows at Hazen.

For twenty-two years Hackett coached girls field hockey, basketball, and softball, frequently in partnership with Jan Howard. Several of her teams became state champions.

By 1991, organizers of a fundraiser for scholarships at HU created the Jean Hackett Golf Tournament; she didn’t play in it until 1998, on the winning team, of course.

Outside school, she bowled with the Timbers in a women’s bowling league. In 1981, her team won the annual tournament. Although she averaged about 145, she became the high bowler for the league with 221 that year.

In the summers, she pitched on a softball team in Barre, which, in 1981, came in second in the state tournament.

She also coached Special Olympics and Pee Wee baseball.

At the United Church, she serves as organist and music director and frequently as the contact person for programs and projects.

She is director of the St. Norbert’s Community Hand Bell Choir. Hackett retired from teaching in 1994 and turned her energy to town government. She became a Justice of the Peace in 1982, and still holds that position.

She served on the select board, including as chair, between 1984 and 1991, the era in which the village and town merged. In 1998, she became a lister, a position she held until 2022.

Jean has excelled at everything she put her mind to, and in the process, she has made Hardwick a much better place.

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