MONROE, CT — Bruce M. Lazar was hired as a fifth grade math teacher at Fawn Hollow Elementary School in 1992, embarking on a career that spanned 29 years in the Monroe public school system. During his time as an administrator, he provided comfort and guidance to Sandy Hook Elementary School students and staff when they moved into Chalk Hill after the tragic shooting at their school in 2012.
Now, after eight years as principal of Stepney Elementary School, Lazar’s career as an educator for Monroe public schools will come to an end. He submitted a letter of resignation to Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza last Friday.
Lazar told Kobza it was a pleasure to work with him, Assistant Superintendent Jack Ceccolini and “the rest of our devoted, dedicated staff.” He also recalled how his career took him from Fawn Hollow to Chalk Hill and Jockey Hollow schools, before he served as principal of Stepney.
“This has afforded me the opportunity to work with many people over the years and I learned much from many,” Lazar wrote. “Never have I been more proud than to wear our ‘Monroe Public Schools … Stronger Together’ shirt.”
“I am also proud that our four children are Masuk graduates and have turned into professionals developing their crafts all over the country,” he continued. “‘If you give them roots they grow wings.'”
“My best wishes to you all on the continued successes of the Monroe Public Schools and I hope to see you all in the near future,” he said.
Kobza announced Lazar’s retirement at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night. Lazar’s last day will be Sept. 1.
Before being hired as principal of Chalk Hill, Kobza said Lazar taught math and social studies and was a team leader, who could always be counted on to lend a hand or plan a trip.
“He took the lead on the annual trip to Boston and the sixth grade’s adventure at Nature’s Classroom at Chalk Hill,” Kobza said.
After moving from Fawn Hollow to Chalk Hill, Lazar taught before serving as principal until its eventual closure. He then worked with Ceccolini as an assistant principal at Jockey Hollow for “a little less than a year-and-a-half,” according to Kobza.
‘An incredibly traumatic time’
Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, the town of Monroe reopened Chalk Hill, allowing Newtown to use its building for classes until a new elementary school could be built.
“Bruce offered his services and knowledge of Chalk Hill to serve as a shared Monroe-Newtown administrator, supporting the Sandy Hook students, working tirelessly to reduce the anxiety and ease the transition for our friends from Newtown during an incredibly traumatic time,” Kobza said.
He said Lazar escorted the Sandy Hook Choir to New Orleans two months after the tragedy, where the children joined singer Jennifer Hudson to perform “America the Beautiful” before Super Bowl XLVII.
At the end of that year, Lazar became principal of Stepney.
‘A staple at Stepney’
Kobza credits Lazar with coordinating the Scientific Research Based Interventions (SRBI) process and adding the flex period for all grades “to allow students to receive extra support and enrichment.”
Lazar also worked closely with the PTO to add playground equipment and provide many events for the school, according to Kobza.
“If you ever went to Stepney, you would see Bruce Lazar outside greeting students getting off the bus, chatting with students, eating lunch in the cafeteria, playing at recess, visiting all the learning in the classrooms and at the end of the day waving goodbye,” Kobza said.
“Diane Behringer … said Bruce could probably tell you the name of each and every student at Stepney, and they responded to the personal interest he took with them,” Kobza said. “His smiling face was a staple at Stepney. He will be truly missed.”
“Bruce has touched the lives of countless families, staff and, most importantly, students and I truly hope he’s watching home tonight, because I know everyone in the Monroe public schools, especially Stepney, wish him nothing but the best in retirement. Congratulations Bruce.”