“In the beginning, Bartholomew Cubbins didn’t have five hundred hats. He had only one hat. It was an old one that had belonged to his father and his father’s father before him.” — The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Dr. Seuss
Like young Mr. Cubbins, Jo Haney didn’t always have 500 hats. When she began her teaching career in Fort Worth as a special education teacher, and even when she moved to Lewisville ISD to teach special education classes at Central Elementary as well as Hedrick Middle School, Lewisville High School and Lewisville Middle School (now DeLay), her hat collection began… and for forty years it grew.
Haney transitioned from teacher, to assistant principal at Hedrick Middle School; and then on to principal at Central Elementary, becoming one of the first female campus administrators in Denton County and charting the course education would take for hundreds of students and teachers under her leadership, adding new layers of responsibility, new innovations — new hats — every step of the way.
Her first love, though, always remained special education. When the opportunity presented itself to leave campus life and move into district administration as LISD’s Director of Special Education, she took it. She quickly promoted to Executive Director of that department, where she spent 20 years guiding policy and procedures to be certain that students whose needs were varied from many of their peers, had their needs met and were given the tools and the opportunity to reach their full potential.
She touched many lives along the way, growing the department from the 16 staff members who were there when she took the helm, to a total of 268 staff members upon her retirement in 2006.
She was instrumental in the creation of the LISD Special Olympics, giving a new opportunity to many students who had never before had the chance to hone their skills and talents and then compete, showing the results of their hard work and determination, and learning all of the life lessons that come with that process.
Her work was noticed by peers and community members alike, and she collected accolades from the Texas PTA, Region XI, Lewisville ISD, Denton County Autism Society and The ARC of Denton County.
The Jo Haney Special Education Scholarship was established upon her retirement. It is awarded each year to a special education student pursuing a higher education or a student pursuing a career in special education. Additionally, The Jo Haney Special Education Grant was established by the LISD Special Education staff to honor her dedicated service to the education of special needs children.
At her retirement celebration, then-Superintendent of Schools for LISD Dr. Jerry Roy recounted the many hats worn by Haney over the years, and acknowledged her important contributions to LISD.
“Jo has been a tireless advocate for the needs of our special population,” Roy said. “Besides her duty as Executive Director and 504 coordinator, Jo (was) often seen at the many functions held throughout the district in the evenings and on the weekends such as Special Olympics and the Circle of Friends Prom.
“Jo’s vast knowledge of special education and its ever-changing laws have made her a valuable resource to her staff and staff throughout the district.”
She continues to serve LISD through involvement with LEF’s Legacy Society.
And, thanks to the foresight of those who worked to endow both a grant and a scholarship in her honor, Haney’s contributions to LISD will continue to benefit the students and teachers of LISD, long after those she worked with directly are retired.
In your educational journey, who impacted you? Have you reached out to that educator to let her know the impact she made? Have you considered cementing her legacy with a scholarship in her honor? LEF is proud to partner with you in the work of leaving a legacy.