EAGAR, Ariz. When JoAn Haws started teaching business classes at Round Valley High School in 1954, she taught students typing skills on a vintage manual typewriter. Fifty years later she teaches them desktop publishing and web design on a sophisticated computer. Some things have changed, but Sister Haws is still going strong.
"It's been delightful," she said of her half century of teaching. "I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Sister Haws of the Eagar Arizona Stake was recently honored at a staff and faculty recognition dinner, during which she was presented a bronze elk, the high school's mascot. An accompanying plaque read, in part: "To honor your service by word and deed. You have enriched the lives of Round Valley School District students and served as an example for all."
Dennis Bigelow, school district superintendent and also a member of the Eagar Arizona Stake, presented the award. He said each year the district honors those who have taught a certain number of years but no one has ever come close to Sister Haws' record.
"She's a very dedicated teacher," he said. "She cares about the students and loves to work with them.
"That is her life," he adds. "The students she has taught are her kids."
And he should know. He, too, was one of her kids; learning typing from her and graduating in 1960. "She had high expectations of her students," he recalled, "but it was a fun class to be in."
He also took photographs for the annual yearbook, something that Sister Haws has also been involved with the entire time she has taught at the high school. The first year she was an assistant adviser and each year since she has served as adviser. Shelves of yearbooks line her walls at home. "I brought home my 50th yearbook this year," she said.
She remembers in her early days at the school that the janitor was the photographer. "He set up our first darkroom," she recalled. "We all learned together." Now she uses digital cameras.
After completing her student teaching and graduating from Arizona State University in 1953 with a degree in business education, Sister Haws knew that she wanted to teach teenagers.
In 1993 she officially retired from teaching full-time but returned immediately working part-time and she has no intention of quitting yet. "I used to say that I'd stay until the turn of the century; that seemed like a long time," she recalled. But that time came and went. "I'm still in good health," she said. "I get up every morning really excited to go to school." She also uses the skills she teaches her students to serve in her ward. She has served as the editor of the Eagar 4th Ward newsletter for more than 11 years and as stake public affairs director, helping with the publicity for the Snowflake Arizona Temple open house and dedication in 2002.