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Saying goodbye not easy for Hartwood principal

| Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Hartwood Elementary Principal Jacquelyn Rauzan hugs students on the last day of school as she says her goodbyes.

Even as the school bell rang for the final time before summer break, Hartwood Elementary Principal Jacquelyn Rauzan still was instructing her students.

“Walk in a straight line,” Rauzan said as she bade farewell to each of her 339 students at the school on Saxonburg Boulevard. “Tie your shoes. Don't run,” she said, all the while waving goodbye, hugging some and tousling their hair.

Rauzan, a Seven Fields resident, is retiring from the Fox Chapel Area School District after seven years as a principal.

The move brings to a close 41 years in education for an administrator whom school staff called family-oriented and nurturing.

“She is professional, but made us feel close-knit,” said Patty Letters, an instructional aide at the elementary school for 14 years.

Rauzan instituted a program in which staff and students used a common theme. A lanyard around her neck was bedecked with pins showing the past seven years' themes.

One says “Imagine, Believe, Achieve.”

Another is a green tree with the words “Together we grow tree-mendously.”

“You'll find those ideas in our everyday curriculum here,” Rauzan said. “For the tree, we might have the students write a story on leaves during class. The work always is something to help visualize the theme.”

Rauzan said the end of the school year was bittersweet.

She said she thinks she'll miss the children come September.

“They are so creative,” she said. “Their imagination is free of the outside world. They are natural and fresh in what they do.”

At the same time, Rauzan is eager to spend time with her family.

With a daughter entering graduate school at the University of Illinois, Rauzan said she'll travel often to the Midwest after her contract expires Monday.

Sophia Williams, a fifth-grader at Hartwood Elementary, said Rauzan made Hartwood “an amazing place to be.”

“She is kind and thoughtful. She cheers everyone up and if you really think about it, she has molded this school into what it is today, an amazing environment for students,” Sophia said.

“She supports all of the fun events the faculty and staff hold for us, like Field Day, Fall Festival and Family Fun Night. Dr. Rauzan was an amazing part of our school's history and we will all miss her.”

A native of nearby Fawn Township, Rauzan was familiar with Fox Chapel Area when she came on board in 2006 from Elroy Elementary School in the Brentwood Borough School District.

In fact, she worked during college as a student-teacher at Fairview, one of the district's four elementary schools.

At Hartwood, Rauzan said, she worked to create a family-style atmosphere with both the staff and students.

“The kids are our family while they're here,” she said. “The staff works as a team. It's a united effort to give the most benefit to each child so that the sky's their limit.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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