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Hartwood Elementary's new principal is excited about position

Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Rachel Fischbaugh is the new principal at Hartwood Elementary School.
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hartwood Elementary Principal Rachel Fischbaugh said she felt at home the moment she first stepped into the Saxonburg Boulevard school.

“I'm definitely excited to be here,” said Fischbaugh, who spent the summer alternately meeting with staff at the Fox Chapel Area school and counting down days to the start of school.

“I couldn't wait until the first day,” she said.

A resident of North Hills, Fischbaugh came on board in June when she replaced now-retired Principal Jacquelyn Gregory-Rauzan. Until then, she had spent her entire education career in the North Allegheny School District, serving most recently as assistant principal at Carson Middle School.

“If I were going to leave NA, it would have only been to take the opportunity here,” said Fischbaugh, who settled comfortably into her new role over the past few months by taking time to meet with teachers, students and their families.

“I love the culture,” she said. “I felt an immediate connection with the philosophy.”

A native of West Virginia, Fischbaugh earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

She worked as a fifth-grade teacher for seven years before her stint as assistant principal, during which time she also coordinated the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

She looks forward to working with the Hartwood team, Fischbaugh said, to learn the needs of the staff as they help each student reach their maximum potential.

“I'm not the type of leader wanting to govern, but rather collaborate,” she said.

Reading Specialist Terri Wilk said Fischbaugh has already stepped easily into her new role.

“We consider Hartwood a family,” said Wilk, a teacher for 22 years at the school. “She asked to meet all of us over the summer and took a lot of time getting to know each one of us. That shows that she considers it a family too.”

While her new administrative duties leave Fischbaugh little time away from schoolwork, she spends any free time watching her son play baseball.

“That's mostly where I am, at the baseball field,” she said.

While Fischbaugh is a new face to students, she has a brief history with the district having completed an administrative internship with former Fairview Elementary Principal Sari McNamara in 2009.

“I feel as if I belong here,” she said.

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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