Joe A. Hairston, a long-time educator and the former superintendent of the school system in Baltimore County in Maryland, died on December 27 at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He was 71 years old.
Dr. Hairston was the first African American to lead the Baltimore County school system. He served three, four-year terms from 2000 to 2012. After stepping down as superintendent, Dr. Hairston became an associate professor of educational leadership and policy at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
A native of Virginia, Dr. Hairston earned a bachelor’s degree at what is now the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. He held a master’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech.
Dr. Hairston began his academic career as a high school and middle school teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland. After seven years in the classroom, he was named an assistant principal and later principal at the high school in Suitland, Maryland.
After serving as an area superintendent in Prince George’s County, Dr. Hairston was appointed superintendent of the public school system in Clayton County, Georgia. He held that post for five years, before returning to Maryland to lead the Baltimore County schools.