John R. "Jack" Gaffney West Henrietta Education Building Named
For decades, Jack Gaffney has been synonymous with the Rush-Henrietta Central School District. Now, his name forever will be associated with one of its buildings.
Family members, friends, colleagues, and staff members gathered Thursday, May 9, for the dedication of the John R. “Jack” Gaffney West Henrietta Education Building, located at 649 Erie Station Road.
A lifelong Rush resident, Jack is known by many for his long and successful 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. Fittingly, his office while serving in that capacity was located in the building which now bears his name.
Jack was well known for his eye for detail. He developed a routing system based on index cards, thumb tacks, and string on a cork board that he used to develop safe and efficient routes for students. Times changed, though, and he realized computers - novelty in those days - could help. He played a key 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 our schools as there are today - as many as 12,000 kids! With the district growing by leaps and bounds, busing challenges were ever-present. Jack was involved with all aspects of transportation, including having a critical say regarding the start and end times of classroom instruction at each school.
Jack, now 85, looks back on his time in Rush-Henrietta with great fondness. He enjoyed helping children and working with his fellow drivers. When he stepped down as director of transportation 23 years ago, he continued to drive on a part-time basis because he wanted to stay involved.
“I loved the bus business,” he says.
Jack attended our local schools, but his education predates our district's formation. He began first grade in 1939 at Rush Town Hall. It was seven years before a community vote was held to create the Rush-Henrietta Central School District. He graduated in 1951 from Monroe Academy, a school built in 1826 that stood on the northeast corner of East Henrietta and Lehigh Station roads.
The John R. “Jack” Gaffney West Henrietta Education Building was built in 1926. Jack has been invited to return to the building in 2026 to celebrate his incredible personal connection to two centuries of Rush-Henrietta school history.
Jack’s community service includes serving on the Rush Town Board and Rush Town Zoning Board. He is a lifetime member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, serving for many years as a Eucharistic Minister. He was a volunteer member of Rush Fire Department. Many residents will recognize him for his many years of working at the district budget vote, greeting people as they came to cast their ballot.
Jack and his wife, Carolyn,a 1953 Rush-Henrietta graduate, have been married more than 60 years. They have three children who continue his educational legacy.
Jack’s daughter, Paula Harvey, works as a member of the transportation department at the Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District. His other daughter, Martha Mack, has worked for Rush-Henrietta for nearly 25 years; she can be found helping people in the high school main office. His son, John Gaffney, retired recently after leading the district’s grounds crew and working for Rush-Henrietta for 35 years. It’s easy to see how these three developed their strong work ethic and can-do attitude.
Also in attendance at the naming ceremony was Jack’s longtime friend, Michal Proukou. He was one of four employees who Jack mentored, and who became transportation directors themselves in local school districts.
“Jack displays a rare humbleness, unlike anyone I have met,” Prokou says. “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.”
Congratulations on this honor, Jack, and thank you for everything you have done for the Rush-Henrietta Central School District and our community!
For additional pictures from the event, visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/rhschools