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Gene Haynes, longtime Omaha North principal, to retire at end of school year

Gene Haynes, longtime Omaha North principal, to retire at end of school year

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A fixture at North High School has announced he will retire at the end of the school year.

Principal Gene Haynes, 75, has been principal of the school since 2001. The announcement has prompted an outpouring of praise for Haynes, who has been called one of Omaha’s most respected educators.

“It would be impossible to measure the positive impact of Mr. Haynes’ more than 50 years in education,” the Omaha Public Schools said in a prepared statement. “We are grateful for his care, enthusiasm and relentless energy. We look forward to celebrating Principal Haynes’ exemplary career in the months to come.”

“His inspiring leadership and positive impact on thousands of students and staff is legendary,” the Omaha North High School Foundation wrote on social media.

Former OPS Superintendent Mark Evans once said he considered himself to be a pretty good principal until he met Haynes.

“I knew every young person by name, and I had 1,600 students,” Evans said. “But (Haynes), he didn’t just know their names, he knew their aunt, uncle, grandma, everybody. He knows the families, he knows the community.”

Born in Mississippi, Haynes attended segregated schools in the Jim Crow South before following his family to Omaha. He began teaching social studies at Tech High in 1967 and coached the school’s basketball team for 13 years. He was the first African American head basketball coach in OPS.

Over the years, he took on a variety of roles in OPS and came to North High in 1987 to serve as the school’s assistant principal and athletic director.

A stretch of 36th Street between Ames Avenue and Sahler Street bears Haynes’ name.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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