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Hines' Legacy Still Lives In Ossining Schools

Hester Bateman Spencer Hines became the first black teacher hired in the Ossining School District in 1949. She retired in 1978 as assistant superintendent of schools. She died in 1979.
Hester Bateman Spencer Hines became the first black teacher hired in the Ossining School District in 1949. She retired in 1978 as assistant superintendent of schools. She died in 1979. Photo Credit: Contributed

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Hester Bateman Spencer Hines was born in North Carolina in 1923.   She was a direct descendant of the Rev. Henry E, Duers, founder of the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, in Ossining.

Upon her graduation from Shaw University in 1941, she taught in her home for two years before moving to Ossining. In 1949, she became the first black teacher hired by the Ossining school district, where her first assignment was teaching first-grade at Park School.

She continued her formal education by earning a master's degrde from Columbia University in 1951 and did post-graduate work at New York University and Hofstra University.

During the next 29 years, Hines taught all grade levels in the Ossining schools. She was one of the founding members of the Community Action Program and served on its board of directors. She also served as president of the Ossining chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was a board member of the Cooperative Scholarship Fund.

She sat on the boards of the Mental Health Association and Urban League of Westchester. In 1969, she was honored as Woman of the Year by the Ossining Business and Professional Women’s Club.

At her retirement in 1978, Hines had risen to the rank of assistant superintendent of Ossining schools.

Tragically, cancer claimed this brilliant and talented woman at the age of 55, on June 14, 1979. But her legacy and contributions to the Ossining school system, are flourishing today as a result of her tireless efforts.  Most notably is the Title I Program (the Pre-Kindergarten Program) which Hines wrote and fought to be implemented in the Ossining school system.

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