High school teacher known for role in and out of classroom
Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Jim Haney has been teaching students at Albert Lea High School since 1989, and he doesn’t have any plans of stopping anytime soon.
Haney, who grew up in Mandan, N.D., a city smack dab in the middle of North Dakota just west of Bismarck, said he got into teaching because it was what both of his parents did for a living.
“I knew the teaching lifestyle,” he said. “My brother is getting into teaching next year. He went to the Naval Academy and did his 20 years, so he’s going to teach in Nebraska. But it’s always been part of my life.”
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After graduating from the University of North Dakota, Haney’s first job was in Jamestown, N.D. He also taught for Pingree-Buchanan Public Schools for two years before crossing the border into the North Star state to meet up with his wife, Lisa, who was teaching first grade in Albert Lea.
“I got a job here in August of 1989 and have been here since,” Haney said. “Moving from North Dakota to Minnesota, it doubled my salary just by crossing the border. Albert Lea was a bigger town. I was teaching in a small community where I was the whole social studies department.”
Haney got his master’s degree from Mankato State University in 2000. Throughout his career, he has taught social studies, mostly at the high school level. He was Albert Lea’s Teacher of the Year in 2004. A couple weeks ago he was KAAL-TV’s Excellent Educator of the week.
“It was very nice to get that award,” he said.
When asked why he chose to specialize in social studies, Haney started his answer off with, “Well, I’m not very good at math.
“What I like about social studies and history is you can’t change it, because it happened,” Haney said. “It’s this big beautiful story that you tell and how it impacts all the decisions going forward and past decisions, that’s what I like best about it.”
Haney is also the head coach for the Albert Lea boys’ and girls’ cross country teams. He used to coach the mock trial, speech and knowledge bowl teams but has since handed those duties off.
Haney lives with Lisa and their two children, Ben and Morgan, on Skylark Lane in Albert Lea. Morgan will graduate high school this year and attend the University of North Dakota next year. Ben is a cameraman for KAAL-TV in Austin and will attend Rochester Community and Technical College next fall. Lisa is a second-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School.
Haney said he missed the rule of 90, which allows teachers to receive retirement benefits if their age and years teaching add up to 90, by about one month before this school year. That doesn’t mean that he’ll be retiring anytime soon, however.
He said right now the ballpark age of retirement is 66.
“That’s another 16 years, and that’s OK,” he said. “I enjoy it enough to want to stick around for a while.”