Perhaps no one can give a better assessment of the late Jody Henshaw Halverson’s skills as an educator than one of her former students.
“She worked me hard, really hard” Lakota Akin, 13, of Fort Dodge, said Thursday night. “She taught me to read a book.”
His mother, Shauna Smith, credited Halverson with providing her son with the foundation for all of his later education.
They paid their respects to the teacher when around 40 people gathered in the playground at Duncombe Elementary School, 1620 Sixth Ave. N., to dedicate a bench placed there to his memory. The bench was donated by her husband, Bernie Halverson, of Fort Dodge.
Bernie Halverson described the event as “absolutely wonderful.”
“I’m tickled to death with the number of people who came,” he said.
Jody Henshaw Halverson died on July 19, 2021, at the age of 63. She had been a special education teacher in the Fort Dodge Community School District for 38 years. Before coming to Fort Dodge, she taught for two years at Keokuk, giving her 40 years of total teaching experience.
She was also heavily involved with the Webster County Chapter of Special Olympics Iowa. Bernie Halverson said his wife is the treasurer of the local Special Olympics group and has always volunteered to help with Special Olympics events at Dodger Stadium.
Before Thursday’s event began, Bernie Halverson said donating a bench was a nice and easy way to honor his wife’s memory in a place that meant a lot to her.
Duncombe Primary School headmaster Ryan Flaherty said after Bernie Halverson offered to donate the bench there were discussions about where to put it, as his wife had worked in several district schools.
“I like to say we won the lottery and we have Jody’s bench here,” he said.
Flaherty gave those in attendance the chance to talk about their memories of Jody Henshaw Halverson. That’s when Smith took the mic and talked about the impact the educator had on her son.
“I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for her, he wouldn’t be able to read,” she says.
“I don’t know how she did it” Smith added. “How do you thank someone for that?” »
After the rally, Smith said his son had Jody Henshaw Halverson as his first and second grade teacher. Then Akin added how his teacher made him work hard to learn to read.
Another 13-year-old, Azala Hill of Fort Dodge, offered personal insight into the teacher.
“She became like a second grandmother to me” said Hill, who is a friend of the Halverson family.
“She was a wonderful person to everyone” said Hill.