Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Haas died Tuesday, apparently after suffering an asthma attack and then going into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The Board of Education is expected to meet today and Harford County Executive David Craig has already sent a message to Board President Patrick Hess offering to support and meet with the Board and Administrative staff and do whatever he can to provide comfort to students, staff, and citizens and ensure a smooth transition.
Sen. Nancy Jacobs reacted with shock and grief to the news of Mrs. Haas’ death. Jacobs said she had a personal relationship with Mrs. Haas unlike any of the many other previous superintendents she had seen come and go in Harford County.
“I think the last time I saw Jackie was at a benefit volleyball tournament for the Edgewood schools a month or so ago. My daughter taught at Edgewood Elementary and has taken a leave of absence since her daughter was born. She still attends a lot of functions at the school, as do several other teachers who recently had babies. The girls’ husbands all played for the Edgewood Elementary team and they dressed the kids/babies up as little Eagles. Jackie came and made such a fuss over the babies. She spent the entire evening there cheering the schools on. She didn’t have to do that,” Jacobs said.
“I sent her our annual family Christmas card a few weeks ago and she immediately sent me a very sweet email commenting on the kids. That email meant a lot to me then and now it’s taken on even greater meaning to me that speaks to the kind of person she was,” Jacobs added.
“I’ve never had that kind of personal relationship with any of the previous superintendents and I’ve seen a number of them come and go over the years. Not only was she a good administrator, she was a very good, kind woman who cared about the children of Harford County,” Jacobs said.
Here is the official announcement from Harford County Public Schools:
HCPS mourns loss of Superintendent Haas
Harford County Public School Superintendent Dr. Jacqueline C. Haas died suddenly on Tuesday, December 30th, due to complications with asthma.
Dr. Haas is a 36-year educator, having spent much of her career in general education, as well as working with severely and profoundly handicapped children. A graduate of the University of Delaware with a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Haas earned her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland.
Humbly accepting many honors and awards throughout her 11-year tenure as Superintendent, Dr. Haas was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year for the 2008 school year by the Public Schools Superintendents Association of Maryland. She was highly respected and admired by her peers throughout the state of Maryland and the country, earning Harford County Public Schools and colleagues many accolades and recognition through her leadership and efforts.
She taught in Harford public schools for 13 years before becoming an Assistant Principal at Prospect Mill Elementary in 1990. She served as principal at Edgewood Elementary School for five years and was promoted to be Assistant Superintendent for Education Services in July 1997. Dr. Haas was named Interim Superintendent of Harford’s public schools by the Board of Education of Harford County on March 16, 1998 and was reappointed for the 1998-99 school year on June 8, 1998.
In July 1999, the Board unanimously appointed Dr. Haas for her fi rst full four-year term as Superintendent. She has subsequently been reappointed for two additional four-year terms. On July 1, 2007 she began her third four-year term.
Dr. Haas was a woman of extraordinary achievement whose dedication to students was evident in every decision she made. She cared deeply about every employee and had high expectations for both students and staff. Her enthusiasm for learning was contagious and she touched everyone she came in contact with. Dr. Haas’ legacy of leadership and commitment to students will endure.
She leaves behind not only her husband Jim, a retired Harford County Public School Special Education and Social Studies teacher, their two sons, Rob, who is a 1999 graduate of Aberdeen High School, and Steven, a 2003 graduate of Harford Technical High School, but thousands of former students and colleagues that remember her humble leadership, dedication, and boundless enthusiasm for education.
A public viewing will be held Saturday, January 3rd from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Tarring-Cargo Funeral Home on 333 S. Parke Street in Aberdeen. A family memorial service will be held on Sunday, January 4th at 4:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Aberdeen. HCPS is planning a school system memorial service to be held Wednesday, January 7th, time and location to be determined. In addition to flowers, donations may be made to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Here is an updated obituary for Mrs. Haas distributed on Thursday:
Dr. Jacqueline C. Haas, Superintendent of the Harford County Public Schools since March, 1998, died at Harford Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, December 30, 2008. Dr. Haas, 59, was a public school special education teacher, helping teacher, assistant, principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent for 36 years. The reigning Maryland Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Haas served on many state and national education committees and was a trusted advisor to State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.
Dr. Haas was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas and moved to the Newark, Delaware area, graduating from high school there before enrolling at the University of Delaware where she earned a degree in special education. She began her career as an educator in Delaware, working with students with severe and profound disabilities before coming to Harford County to teach at the John Archer Special School in 1977. Later, she was named a helping teacher in special education and was subsequently appointed assistant principal at Prospect Mill Elementary School in 1990 where she served for two years before being selected as principal at Edgewood Elementary School in 1992.
In 1997, she was named Assistant Superintendent for Education Services, a position in which she had oversight responsibilities for the instructional program in the Harford County Public Schools. In March, 1998, she was named Interim Superintendent of the Harford Public Schools by the Board of Education of Harford County. In October of that year, the Board named her Superintendent and she was appointed to subsequent four-year terms as Superintendent in 1999, 2003, and 2007. Dr. Haas, who earned her master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University and her Ed.D. from the University of Maryland, was in her eleventh year as Superintendent of Harford County Public Schools at the time of her death. Her third term as Superintendent was due to have been completed in June, 2011.
Under Dr. Haas’ leadership, the Harford County Public Schools maintained its student achievement ranking in the upper quartile of school systems in Maryland. The school system made major advances in the areas of secondary school reform, curriculum revision, and leadership reorganization. The first ever countywide secondary school redistricting was recommended by the Superintendent and approved and implemented by the Board of Education in 2007. During her term as Superintendent, one new elementary school and a combined middle/high school were constructed and opened. In addition, several elementary schools and two high schools were modernized. The school system is in the midst of completing the replacement of two high schools, the construction of two new elementary schools, and the modernization/replacement of an elementary school. According to her husband Jim, she was most proud of establishing diversity amongst the senior level leadership and hoped that it would carry forward as her legacy.
Dr. Haas is survived by her husband, Jim, a retired Harford County Public School special education and social studies teacher; and their two sons, Rob, 26, and Steven, 23. Rob was graduated from Aberdeen High School in 1999, while Stephen is a 2003 graduate of Harford Technical High School. She is also survived by her brother Skip Cordes of Philadelphia, PA; and sisters, Cathy Jo Zimmerman of Newark, DE, and Debbie Cordes of Aberdeen.
Friends may call at the Tarring-Cargo Funeral Home in Aberdeen on Saturday, January 3rd, from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The family will hold a memorial service, which is open to the public, on Sunday, January 4th, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Aberdeen from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Harford County Public Schools will also have a Celebration of Life ceremony on Wednesday, January 7th, at Aberdeen High School from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Donations may be made in Dr. Haas’ memory to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 1233 20th St., NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC, 20036. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.tarringcargo.com.
On Monday morning, Harford County Executive David Craig paid tribute to Dr. Haas:
County Executive Craig Pays Tribute to Dr. Haas
(Bel Air, MD – January 5, 2009) – – County Executive David R. Craig today shared his thoughts regarding the untimely death of Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jacqueline C. Haas who died December 30, 2008 due to complications from asthma.
“Harford County has lost one of its finest,” County Executive Craig stated. “Dr. Haas was a devoted wife, mother, a 36-year career educator and the Maryland State Superintendent of the Year for 2008. All of Harford County is saddened by the loss of this truly outstanding woman and a pioneer in our school system,” Craig added.
Superintendent Haas taught in Harford County public schools for 13 years before being named an assistant principal at Prospect Mill Elementary School in 1990. A few years later she was promoted to principal at Edgewood Elementary School and then Assistant Superintendent for Education Services in 1997 by former Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jeffrey Grotzky.
Upon Dr. Grotzky’s departure from the school system, Dr. Haas was elevated to Interim Superintendent of Schools in March 1998, and ultimately Superintendent of Schools for Harford County.
“Jackie Haas was one of the finest educators I had the pleasure of being associated with during my 34 years as a teacher and administrator in the Harford County Public Schools,” County Executive Craig stated. “She was one of the strongest advocates for children I ever knew and worked hard to make our school system one of the finest in the state. She will be sorely missed,” the county executive remarked.
Mrs. Haas, who was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year for 2007-2008, was a teacher in Harford County for more than a dozen years before advancing to assistant principal in 1990 and assistant superintendent just seven years later. On March 16, 1998, Mrs. Haas was appointed Interim Superintendent of Harford’s Public Schools – a position that would become permanent six months later.
From her biography on the Harford County Public Schools web site:
Dr. Jacqueline C. Haas , is a 36-year educator having spent much of her career in general education, as well as working with severely and profoundly handicapped children. A graduate of the University of Delaware with a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Haas earned her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland. She taught in Harford public schools for 13 years before becoming an Assistant Principal at Prospect Mill Elementary in 1990. She served as principal at Edgewood Elementary School for five years and was promoted to be Assistant Superintendent for Education Services in July 1997. Dr. Haas was named Interim Superintendent on March 16, 1998 and was reappointed for the 1998-99 school year June 8, 1998. On November 9, 1998, the Board of Education of Harford County unanimously appointed Dr. Haas to be Superintendent of Harford County Public Schools. Her first four-year term was from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2003. On July 1, 2007 she began her third four-year term. Dr. Haas and her husband Jim, retired, have two sons and live in Aberdeen. Their older son is a 1999 graduate of Aberdeen High School, while their younger son is a 2003 graduate of Harford Technical High School.