Haring Center

10. Center Leaders Who Make An Impact

No matter the necessity of a non-profit’s mission or how innovative its research, it must also have an exemplary level of foresight and determination from its leaders. Like any other field, special education consists of an array of focuses that change with time. At the Haring Center, we’ve been fortunate to have more than a handful of leaders over 50 years steer us through the field to the areas where we can make the most impactful contribution.

Laying a foundation of expanded service and a scientific process to developing teaching techniques, Norris Haring is a pioneer who started the Experimental Education Unit (EEU) down the path of inclusion. Through his work and findings, children with disabilities in the Seattle area could find a place to receive an education. Norris’ tenure as director oversaw some major accomplishments by researchers in the areas of Down syndrome, learning disabilities and behavior disorders.

Joe Jenkins built a robust research tradition at the Haring Center for 10 years starting in 1979, where studies such as the Longitudinal Outcomes Project were recognized for their importance in contributing to what we know about a the impact that a child’s environment has on his or her success. Through this project, Jenkins and colleague Kevin Cole tracked educational outcomes for EEU students until they reached age 18.

What Jenkins did for research, his successor, Owen White, did for building a sense of community within the Haring Center. In addition to his work in instructional strategies for people with learning disabilities, White will be known as the director who brought the heart to the EEU. In fact, every year White selected a member of the staff and awarded him or her the “Heart of the Unit” award for extraordinary service to our community.

The combined focuses of Haring, Jenkins and White created a unique environment at the EEU of sustained research for all children with an emphasis on community. After the Alice Hayden Preschool program was founded at the EEU, director Felix Billingsly focused research on children with severe disabilities. His work widened the scope of what we know about the importance of early evaluation and intervention for children with special needs.

Our current director, Ilene Schwartz, has ushered in a new era for the Haring Center: inclusion. All children have a right to a high quality education at their local school, regardless of ability. It is incumbent on researchers and educators to develop the practices and trainings for teachers and school administrators to cultivate a culture that ensures every child has such an opportunity. This movement is the present and future of the Haring Center.