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Hathaway Elementary Principal Laura Bolt retires from Washougal School District (Photo) - 01/27/15
Laura Bolt, Hathaway Elementary School principal, has announced her retirement effective at the end of the current 2014-15 school year. Bolt has been with the Washougal School District since 2003, hired as Hathaway's principal, a capstone to her 42-year career in elementary education.

Bolt brought to Washougal more than 29 years of experience as a teacher and instructional leader having taught for the Tahoma, Battle Ground, and Vancouver School Districts. Bolt also taught at a private parochial school, Our Lady of Lourdes School in Vancouver, for one year.

"I have come to know Laura as a person who cares deeply for the welfare of every child and every staff member," said Dawn Tarzian, WSD superintendent. "Her caring manifests itself in so many practical ways - from opening hundreds of milk cartons each day to working with a desperate mother to help her find the resources needed so her child can be successful in class the next day."

Bolt's relationship with her students, staff and parents has been her favorite and proudest aspect of her career. "I love to walk down the halls and interact with the children," she said.

"As an elementary school principal, one of my duties is discipline," Bolt explained. "I never wanted students to feel afraid to talk to me or to come in to my office. So my approach to discipline was to describe the problem as a mistake and that you can learn from mistakes. The kids trust me and know that I am fair. They need to learn how to approach problems in the future. I work to be a good adult role model for them."

Some visitors to Hathaway had commented to Bolt their surprise at how reasonable and calm the elementary students are. "These are my expectations and the kids try hard to meet those expectations," she said. "I am so proud of them and all of their accomplishments."

Bolt's skill as a teacher leader emerged early in her career and she was assigned opportunities to provide training and mentoring support to student and new teachers through long-term teachers. She is known and respected in Washougal, regionally and across the state for her exceptional work in supporting instructional improvement. Bolt provided support and coaching to her staff, having regular conversations on how to improve instruction. "I have a very good and wonderful staff," she said.

Bolt also cared deeply for her staff. "I know they deal with a lot of different academic and emotional needs of children every day," she said. "Whenever I can I would try to lessen their load. I want their energy to go to the kids. If there is something I can help work out, I'll do it!

"Laura's greatest strength is that she cares so much," said Sue Conway, Hathaway kindergarten teacher. "She makes sure that each and every child experiences success. She cares for kids. She cares for our Hathaway families. She cares for her staff. We will miss her so much!"

"Laura is the hardest working principal I've ever worked for," said Emma Slabbert, Hathaway kindergarten teacher. "She has the ability to see problems before they get too big, she's one step ahead. She cares about the kids and I feel like she's very fair."

After retirement, Laura plans to spend more time with her husband of 40 years, Ron, who semi-retired in December 2014 as a lumber broker. She is also excited for more time with her grandchildren, Peter and Paige, in Boise, ID.

"I'm looking forward to spending time with friends, volunteering and even playing some pickleball!" she said.

Caption: Laura Bolt will miss the caring relationships she has made with Hathaway students, staff and parents.