Dr. Joseph P. Heaney, a retired special education teacher and administrator whose career with Baltimore public schools spanned more than three decades, died of cancer May 30 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Windsor Mills resident was 59.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Dr. Heaney was a 1967 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Irvington. He began his teaching career in city public schools after earning a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1971 from the University of Scranton.
He later earned a state certificate in special education from Coppin State University and a master's degree in school psychology from Towson University. Last year he earned a doctorate in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
He was a special education teacher at Booker T. Washington Junior High School, Joseph C. Briscoe Vocational High School and Benjamin Franklin Junior High School.
From 1977 to 1980, he was academic department head at the then-Samuel Gompers General Vocational High School.
At Gompers, he led a schoolwide testing program to "ensure that large numbers of previously unsuccessful students were able to pass mandated proficiency tests to earn a high school diploma," Dr. Heaney wrote in a biographical sketch.
From 1980 to 1985, he was promoted to assistant principal and served at Cherry Hill, William H. Lemmel and Chinquapin middle schools. He also was an assistant principal at Fairmount Hill General Vocational High School, Upton Home & Hospital School and Northern High School.
He was principal at Dr. Lillie M. Jackson Elementary School for six years until retiring in 2004.
Dr. Heaney then went to work as a juvenile special education coordinator at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School and later served as executive director at the Barbara Jordan Public Charter School in Washington for a year.
Dr. Heaney was an avid reader of history and biography, and enjoyed traveling to Ireland and Italy. He also liked organizing and attending his family's annual reunion.
Services were Tuesday.
Surviving are his mother, Camella Mary Heaney of Berlin; three brothers, Clement T. Heaney of El Sobrante, Calif., Michael N. Heaney of Baltimore and Paul L. Heaney of Catonsville; a sister, Rose M. Ford of Pasadena; and many nieces and nephews.