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New Fairview Elementary principal looks forward to new school year

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Rebecca Stephan talks about her excitement being in her new position as Principal at Fairview Elementary.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Rebecca Stephan talks about her excitement being in her new position as Principal at Fairview Elementary.

Rebecca Stephan, new principal at Fox Chapel Area's Fairview Elementary, spent the summer marking off days on her desk calendar.

“It's been a nice three months, but I'm looking forward to hearing the kids' voices,” said Stephan, who took the reins in June when Sari McNamara retired.

New to the district, her face should be somewhat familiar to students returning this week to the Dorseyville Road school. Stephan, 37, took an early leave from her position as a Pine-Richland assistant principal and spent two months transitioning with McNamara.

She learned quickly that Fairview has an air of collaboration that made her new beginning an easy one, Stephan said.

“There is a family atmosphere here,” she said. “The team is active and invaluable in seeking out what's best for the kids.”

School board President Joel Weinstein said Stephan will make a solid addition to the elementary level because “she is bright and personable.

“Her qualifications were exceptional,” he said.

Having earned her master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington, Stephan began her career as an elementary music teacher in Massachusetts before serving as an assistant principal in Texas. She served seven years as an administrator before coming to the district.

With a background in music education, Stephan has a keen interest in nurturing the arts curriculum for her 330 students.

“I appreciate the board's commitment to that,” she said. “I would never be in a school that considered not having arts for the kids.”

Stephan and her husband, a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, live in Pittsburgh's Allegheny West neighborhood on the North Side.

She plays the French horn, likes to ride her bike and is a custom-cake enthusiast.

“I've done wedding cakes and everything,” she said.

Overseeing classroom preparation and school maintenance this summer, Stephan said she's eager to get back to classes, activities and even homework. Describing her spring school stint as a whirlwind of learning the names of staff and children, Stephan said, “I feel like I can get to know the kids beyond their names finally.

“This is a gem of a school and kids this age love to learn,” she said. “If you give them the information, they soak it up.”

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

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