Edie Hazlett, French and Spanish Teacher

For three decades, Edie Hazlett has been teaching Ellis girls the importance and beauty of world languages as a Middle and Upper School French and Spanish Teacher. Not only a teacher, but a former parent who had three daughters graduate from Ellis, Ms. Hazlett has seen the transformative power of an Ellis education in her students, alumnae, and her daughters. Once her daughters were born, Ms. Hazlett recognized the need for on-site childcare at Ellis and advocated that remaining space in the newly built Lower School serve as a daycare. The Ellis Fifth Avenue Daycare she co-founded will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. In her classroom overlooking the athletic field, Ms. Hazlett shared what she believes are the advantage of all-girls education, her favorite Ellis tradition, and how she got started at Ellis.
Years at Ellis:32
Title:Middle and Upper School Spanish and French Teacher
Education:B.A. French, Penn State University

Did you know you always wanted to be a teacher? How did you get started at Ellis?
I had many phases! I had an engineering phase and a law phase, but it really came down to languages or physics. After graduating from Penn State and student teaching, I taught French and Spanish at a boarding school in Lake Forest, Illinois for four years before I decided to move closer to the East Coast. I’m originally from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, so I moved back to Pittsburgh to get married and I found a job at Ellis.

You advocated for childcare at Ellis and co-founded the daycare center here. How did that happen?
I didn’t have children yet when I started at Ellis, but when I had my first daughter I began looking for daycare. The Lower School had just been built and there was this space that was still underutilized. I remember talking to Belle Moldovan about using that space as an on-site daycare. The following year, there were a handful of faculty members who were pregnant, and in many cases, it was their first child. We came together as a group to secure state licensing and opened in the fall of 1990.

What do you love about Ellis?
I love how Ellis brings about so many different connections among families, faculty, staff, students, and people outside the community. It’s all those small connections—students who tell me their piano teacher had me as a teacher 15 years ago or alumnae coming back as parents —that really make it worthwhile and one of my favorite things about the School.   

What do you think are the advantages to Ellis’ all-girls environment?
The all-girls environment ensures students are phenomenally well-prepared for what comes next. Their confidence enables them to try anything. At Ellis, they’re encouraged to be the person they want to be.

What is your favorite Ellis tradition?
It’s hard to choose because there are so many. I would say the traditions around graduation, including the younger sisters at commencement, and the commencement ceremony as a whole. It’s particularly neat to see the girls enter into the next phase of their life at commencement and to see how incredibly ready they are to take on the world.

How would you describe Ellis girls?
Ellis girls are independent thinkers who are thoughtful and kind. They gain their confidence through competence and they’re very self-aware.

What is most important to you that girls learn at Ellis?
I want the girls to have a can-do spirit and attitude. To know that they can do something, but also know how to recover from a stumble. I want them to have that confidence to try again if something doesn’t go well, and the curiosity to try new things.

How do you spend your free time?
With my family, I have three daughters in their twenties who are all “Ellis lifers”. I also enjoy needlepoint, knitting, reading, and gardening.

What have you learned about leadership during your time at Ellis?
Ellis has always encouraged calculated risk-taking. Be it trying new things educationally, pedagogically, or technologically, Ellis has always supported new ideas and leading them yourself.

What woman inspires you and why?
My mother and my grandmothers. They were very strong women who really valued education. My mother was a teacher and a school librarian for many years. Also, Katharine Graham. I admire what she was able to do, her background, and the risks she took.

What is the last book you read?
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

What do you love most about your job?
The students and my colleagues.