Advancing access and enrollment in special education has been a focus for Idalyn “Lynn” Hauss throughout her career. The most gratifying aspect of her many years in special education was working one on one with students and seeing them grow.
“I liked the hands-on with the kids, but as I moved up the ladder, the impact became more systemic,” she said in a recent interview. “I still touched the kids’ lives, but no longer at the personal level — I had to change from making an impact on their individual growth to systemic growth, and to help develop and strengthen systems that could be put in place to help the children achieve their goals.”
After graduating from State Teachers College at Towson (now Towson University) in 1974, the Baltimore County resident rose through the ranks from teacher to department head and then principal. At one point in the late ’90s, Hauss was one of five Jewish principals in Baltimore City Public Schools.
Hauss was subsequently appointed director of special education for the entire Baltimore City Public School System in 2006 and was later named deputy officer of special education at a critical time, when City Schools was still under a consent decree following a lawsuit by the Maryland Disability Law Center to ensure services for students with disabilities.
“It was a challenging time for the system,” said Hauss, “and I worked to coordinate the many different people overseeing services for special ed with the goal of getting us all on the same page for the benefit of the students.”
She retired when her father, Irvin Lemel, became ill in 2008 and she found herself traveling back and forth from the hospital to be there for him. Following her father’s death in 2009, she returned to the workforce as a contractor for Baltimore City Public Schools and Baltimore County Home and Hospital.
Hauss graduated from Milford Mill High School in 1970. She was one of several young teachers hired at Chinquappin Middle School not long after college graduation, where she worked for Craig Spilman. Spilman, the former executive director of the Collegebound Foundation, Inc., led the conversion of Woodbourne Junior High School to Chinquapin Middle School and was known as a transformational leader in education. In a way, he was transformational for Hauss as well: It was at a get-together at Spilman’s home that she met her husband Charles in the fall of 1974. He was a house principal at Chinquappin, she recalled.
“I had brought a friend to a party at Spilman’s home, who spent the evening talking to the head of the English Department,” she said. “I spent the evening chatting with Charles.” The Hausses will be celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary in October of this year.
Hauss spoke proudly of their three children: Jessica, an engineering program manager for Planet Labs PBC in San Francisco; Michael, a fourth-grade teacher in Palo Alto, California, who most recently taught third grade at North Bend Elementary School in Howard County; and David, CEO of Hauss Collective, a production design consulting firm in Owings Mills.
After a lifelong career working with children in special education, Hauss has learned that it is important to live in the moment.
“Live in the moment, enjoy the time that you have with your family. People liked working for me because family came first.”