Wichita State alum says leaving Hadley Middle School is ‘the hardest thing’

By Courtney Brown / The Sunflower

After 19 years of teaching at Hadley Middle School, Tiffany Rausch wrapped up her last year there last month.

Rausch isn’t the only one leaving — in March, the Wichita school board voted to close Hadley Middle School, along with five other Wichita schools, at the end of the academic year.

Rausch, a sixth grade social studies teacher and Wichita State alum, has spent 26 years teaching in the Unified District 259. Not someone who “bounces schools,” she first taught at Hamilton Middle School in 1998, teaching language arts and social studies before moving to Hadley.

The teacher said she was “very upset” when she learned Hadley would close. Her mother and other family members attended the middle school.

“I don’t switch schools willy-nilly. I haven’t left,” Rausch said. “I believe in Hadley.”

While teaching, Rausch has seen Hadley’s family legacy continue among her students – she said she has taught multiple siblings from the same families and, more recently, a student whose mother she had taught.

She said her lengthy career there means students have become familiar with her teaching style.

“It’s a feeling that you’re doing something and doing it well,” Rausch said. “That you’ve made an impression, that they know who you are. That your reputation precedes you because yeah, they (the students) come in and they go, ‘Oh yeah, my sister had you, and she said you do not want to do this or that.’”

Rausch said she’s made many memories while at Hadley, from coaching the National Academic League for several years to forging a friendship with a fellow teacher that has lasted all 19 years of working together. She said a handful of teachers have remained there since she’s started, creating a sense of camaraderie.

“We’re (my close friend and I) going to be separated for the first time in a long time,” Rausch said. “He’s had my back … Almost all of his kids have been born while I’ve been there.”

According to The Wichita Eagle, Rausch and her fellow teachers at Hadley are part of 322 employees impacted by the school closures, and these employees were told they would be offered a position within the district if they go through an application process.

Rausch said while a teaching position is guaranteed, “it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.” She said openings for social studies are hard to come by, and after teaching at one school for so long, her interview skills are “rusty.”

She also pointed out how she’s had to compete against fellow coworkers as well.

“I’ve interviewed against my colleagues, people I’ve worked with … (One teacher) has been there with me about eight or 10 years,” Rausch said.

While Rausch said she’s qualified to teach language arts and could teach that subject if needed, she prefers social studies due to the “pressure” of teaching language arts. Her master’s degree from WSU is in American and modern European history.

“The curriculum has changed a lot in 20 years,” Rausch said. “And it’s just not as fun as it used to be to teach language arts, where you could pick books that you wanted to use and you could, you know, have a little more leeway.”

Through the challenges, Rausch said she’s grateful for the human resources employee helping Hadley staff navigate the application process.

Leaving Hadley

Rausch expressed her pride in Hadley Middle School – she noted its many accomplishments, such as National Academic League city titles and the winning track and cross country teams. She hated the idea of the banners and trophies being put away.

“There’s beautiful paintings on the walls the students did before I got there: glass mosaic and the windows that students did,” Rausch said. “And to think of that building sitting empty, it just breaks my heart.”

While Rausch said she’s kept it together to run her classrooms, she wasn’t looking forward to saying goodbye to Hadley.

“I know that last day is going to be miserable for me …. and walking out that door is going to be the hardest thing I’ve had to do for a long time,” Rausch said.

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Sunflower