Remembering her dedication
Playground bench honors memory of Jody Henshaw Halverson
Perhaps no one can give a better assessment of the late Jody Henshaw Halverson’s skill as an educator than one of her former students.
“She worked me hard, really hard,” 13-year-old Lakota Akin, of Fort Dodge, said Thursday evening. “She taught me how to read a book.”
His mother, Shauna Smith, credited Halverson with giving her son the foundation for all of his later education.
They offered their tributes to the teacher when some 40 people gathered in the playground at Duncombe Elementary School, 1620 Sixth Ave. N., to dedicate a bench placed there in her 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 amount of people that came,” he said.
Jody Henshaw Halverson died July 19, 2021, at age 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 in Keokuk, giving her 40 years of total teaching experience.
She was also very involved in the Webster County chapter of Special Olympics Iowa. Bernie Halverson said his wife was the treasurer of the local Special Olympics group and always volunteered to help with Special Olympics events at Dodger Stadium.
Before Thursday’s event started, Bernie Halverson said donating a bench was a nice and easy way to honor the memory of his wife in a place that meant a lot to her.
Duncombe Elementary School Principal Ryan Flaherty said that after Bernie Halverson offered to donate the bench there was some discussion about where to put it because his wife had worked at several of the district’s schools.
“I like to say that we won the lottery and we got Jody’s bench here,” he said.
Flaherty gave people in attendance the chance to talk about their memories of Jody Henshaw Halverson. That’s when Smith took the microphone 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 said.
“I don’t know how she did it,” Smith added. “How do you thank someone for that?.”
After the gathering, Smith said her son had Jody Henshaw Halverson as a teacher in first and second grades. Then Akin added how his teacher made him work hard to learn how to read.
Another 13-year-old, Azala Hill, of Fort Dodge, offered a personal glimpse into the teacher.
“She became like a second grandma to me,” said Hill, who is a friend of the Halverson family.
“She was a wonderful person to everybody,” Hill said.