Pleasant Perseverance: MHA Freshman Anna Hayes thrives despite the odds

With doctors giving her only an 8 percent chance of survival, Anna Hayes’ life story is one of perseverance and God’s provision.

The Mars Hill Academy freshman was born prematurely at 25 weeks, weighing only 1 lb. 11 oz. She spent the first three months of her life in the Miami Valley Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Dayton.

“I wondered how we would plan for an infant funeral,” her father Justin Hayes recalled. “The doctors said if she survived, she would be blind and would never speak or walk. Every step of the way, we were told what she couldn’t do – run, ride a bike, read, swim. But Anna has pleasantly persevered.”

To the bewilderment of doctors, Anna not only has overcome the challenges of her premature birth, but she also has thrived. Mr. Hayes describes her unexpected accomplishments as an "exceptional provision of God's grace."

Anna came to MHA in Kindergarten. Although her family loved the school, they sought reassurance that the classical, Christian education provided by MHA was the right fit. Multiple assessments from various agencies over the years — even by area public school districts — repeatedly verified that there is no other academic structure more suited to meet her needs.

“They all contended the best place for her to maximize her abilities is here,” Mr. Hayes said. “Anna exhibits strong childlike faith in Jesus Christ, has a strong work ethic, loves school, and has flourished spiritually, socially, and cognitively in the MHA environment.”

Mr. Hayes said the teachers work to ensure Anna is supported and challenged academically. In fact, she has been named to the Headmaster’s List for academic achievement the past two years. Her schedule includes traditional classical classes like antiquities and protocol, as well as an independent study of missionaries and service as a front office aide two days a week.

"The staff at Mars Hill Academy has provided layer upon layer of support, encouragement, wisdom, and love for us that is overwhelming," said Mr. Hayes.

“Anna’s love for MHA and her servant’s heart is evident in her work,” said Admissions Director Patsy Hall. “She always is eager to help and is conscientious in her work. It is a true joy to have her in the front office.”

Anna’s duties range from making school hymnals and preparing mailings to updating school signs and helping the Advancement Team with printed materials for events.

“What I like best about Mars Hill is the Christian education and the teachers,” she said. “I like all my classes. I also like to come up to the office and help during my work periods if I don’t have too much school work.”

Anna, who recently earned her temporary driver’s license, enjoys reading, crafting, playing online games like Words with Friends, and exercising. She also works with the youth at her church and makes and donates hats for infants in the NICU.

Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati’s only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit

Photo: Mars Hill Academy freshman Anna Hayes works as an office aide. Born prematurely at just 25 weeks, she was given less than an 8 percent chance of survival. Today is she is a thriving teen.