Jack Gaffney has been synonymous with the Rush-Henrietta Central School District, one of its buildings was recently named after him.
Family members, friends, colleagues and staff members gathered May 9 for the dedication of the John R. “Jack” Gaffney West Henrietta Education Building, located at 649 Erie Station Road.
Gaffney is known by many for his career in Rush-Henrietta transportation circles. He began there as a substitute driver in 1957 and retired as a part-time driver in 2009. In between, he spent 25 years as the district transportation director. His office while serving in that capacity was located in the building which now bears his name.
He developed a routing system based on index cards, thumbtacks and string on a cork board that he used to develop safe and efficient routes for students. Times changed, though, and he realized computers could help. He played a role in transitioning to computerized bus routing. He also was the first transportation director in the area to understand the benefits of moving from gasoline-powered buses to diesel-powered engines, which provided better efficiency at a lower cost.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, there were twice as many students attending the schools as there are today — as many as 12,000 kids. With the district growing, busing challenges were present. Gaffney was involved with all aspects of transportation, including having a critical say regarding the start and end times of classroom instruction at each school.
“I loved the bus business,” said Gaffney.
In attendance at the naming ceremony was Gaffney’s longtime friend, Michal Proukou. He was one of four employees who Gaffney mentored and who became transportation directors themselves in local school districts.
“Jack displays a rare humbleness, unlike anyone I have met,” said Proukou. “Jack has always attributed his success, both in his professional and personal life, to those who surround him. Jack would never accept the credit for all that he’s accomplished.”