Susanne Hahn - LTA 2019

From Marilyn Holt:

Suzanne Walden was hired as a principal and teacher in 1988 by Superintendent Dr. Jerry Richey!   She was young, full of energy and had talent galore.   Suzanne had a Bachelor’s Degree from MacMurray College and her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Illinois State University.   She had taught previously but this was her first administrative position!  

Suzanne quickly got to work and soon Claremont Grade School was a state recognized Accelerated School.   She was doing amazing things at that small country school and students, parents, and the community recognized it!  Lucky for Richland County, Suzanne fell in love with Tim Hahn and students had the benefit of Mrs. Hahn as a principal, curriculum director, Title I Director, and Assistant Superintendent for 26 years.   

When Dr. Armstrong became Superintendent he chose Suzanne to be his Assistant Superintendent.   She had many responsibilities, lots of experiences, gained new knowledge and learned the pitfalls as well as the possibilities of educational leadership.   It was July of 1999, Superintendent John Hill asked Suzanne to open the brand new elementary school in January of 2000.   Mr. Hill asked her to put her thumb print all over it!   That she did and so much more!

During Suzanne’s time as Principal at East Richland Elementary School the school received State, National and International recognition including Illinois ASPIRE South RTI Demonstration Site; ISBE Spotlight School – Distinction for High Achievement/High Poverty and the International Reading Association honored ERES for their Reading program.   She completed her Educational Specialist degree in 2010 from Eastern Illinois University and received the Alumni and Leadership Award from EIU in 2012.  

Achieving Lighthouse status from the Covey/Leader in Me program was significant!     Only 43 schools in the world were recognized at that time with the Lighthouse status and ERES in Olney, Illinois was one because of Suzanne Hahn!  The Covey Lighthouse status was awarded because for the past many years the elementary children had learned the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.   The students know to:  Be proactive; Begin with the End in Mind; Put first Things First; Think Win-Win; Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the Saw.   And then at ERESthe students with Mrs. Hahn as the leader added Find Your Voice!   Students and staff were encouraged to find their voice – their passion and to share it with others.   It is that common sense approach that perhaps has been forgotten but in our community with poverty on the rise and concerns about young people – Suzanne Hahn stood up and said we can change and make a difference.   Our children can be Learners and Leaders! 

Suzanne is a leader in every sense and she made the elementary school into a lighthouse to lead the way for others.   In addition she and her team of excellent educators created a Lighthouse School for reading, technology, instruction, professional development, and the list goes on and on!   Suzanne pushed students and staff to high standards and demands in a wonderful way excellence and she got it back ten-fold.  She opened the doors of the building and welcomed visitors from neighboring schools as well as educators from Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Georgia and beyond so that they could come and learn.  

Suzanne was recognized in 2012 by the Illinois Principal’s Association as the most outstanding elementary principal in the state.   As a result, she was recognized in Washington, D.C. as one of the top elementary principals in the nations.       

Suzanne’s passion is for kids; she is their advocate!  She knows names, family connections, individual strengths and weaknesses and she always makes time for them.   She loves to celebrate kids and teachers.  She is always filling buckets with kind notes and words of encouragement for others.  Her passion for education and learning is evident and she shares that with everyone.   She encourages students, staff, and the community to be the best they can be and to see the greatness in others.  She goes out of her way to do the extra things.

Susanne Hahn is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things!  She is the person, who when the school was closed for snow and the parent called because she needed a pill for her child, had Tim drive her on icy roads to the school to get the pill and then take it to the child’s home.   She personally supported and still supports families emotionally and even monetarily (please don’t tell Tim!).   She is the one who can calm the misbehaving child.   She is the one who makes us all feel that We Belong! We learn! and We Succeed!  As a result, in 2014 she was named Citizen of the Year for Olney and Richland County!

Since retirement, Suzanne Hahn served as the elementary principal for West Richland Grade School in Noble the very first year of annexation.   The Noble community loved having her and indeed she was part of the great success of the Richland County Schools.   In addition, Suzanne has served as a Mentor and Coach for the Illinois Principal’s Association.   She has worked as a consultant and presenter at Jasper County Community Unit #1, Mt. Vernon Township High School, North Clay CUSD as well as others.   Suzanne is active in the Olney Community as she is part of the Together We Play Park that raised over $200,000 for a community playground for ALL children; on the Board of Directors for Fall Kids Mall; Coordinator of the Olney Summer Food Program and is a Sunday School Teacher at First United Methodist Church.   And now, in her spare time she helps at Richland County Schools mentoring teachers and reading with children.   She continues to share her knowledge and gifts with our children and community for indeed, Suzanne is a true example of Once a Tiger – Always a Tiger!

Suzanne loves Richland County and Olney!   She found her dream job here!   And she found Tim and her wonderful family – Molly (her husband Aaron), T.J. and Luke!   Tim is and always has been ‘the wind beneath Suzanne’s wings.”   It is no secret – she could not have done all that she did or worked the long hours she worked without Tim keeping things going at home.   He is a take charge kind of guy and has done that for their family serving as nanny, soccer dad, swim team dad, coach of various sports for kids, getting kids to practices and ballgames, and always being there for Suzanne and the kids.   In addition, he is the best Supervisor of Assessment in Illinois and used to make delicious pizza!  Tim has shared Suzanne with all of us, set lofty goals of world travel for his family (all 50 states and counting off the continents) and is the constant dependable fun loving wonderful man you trust and respect! 

Suzanne retired to spend more time with her parents and family and even though she has been extremely busy in retirement she has found time to do that!   She is often at the farm in McClain County helping with whatever needs doing.  She and Tim travel, go to concerts, spend time with their adult kids, family and friends.   Suzanne lives life to its fullest each and every day.  

We honor Suzanne today for all that she has done for the community, district, school, staff and students.   We appreciate that it is her fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to create excellence for students that made this school and district exceptional.   She is a passionate advocate for students and a role model for all educators!   We are delighted to present Suzanne Hahn with a 2019 Tiger Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award!



Susanne Hahn – East Richland Elementary Principal

Honored: “Citizen of the Year” 2014

A logistics-planning and brokerage service business, a dealership and a principal were recognized for their contributions to the community Monday night during the annual Olney & the Greater Richland County Chamber of Commerce Banquet at Olde Tyme Steakhaus.

A.M. Transport and Eagleson Automotive Center were named Olney Daily Mail Businesses of the Year.

East Richland Elementary School Principal Suzanne Hahn was named WVLN-WSEI Citizen of the Year.

At the end of her speech, Hahn said she was honored and dedicated the award to “all of you that day in and day out make Olney better.”

During his introduction of Hahn, WSEI-WVLN General Manager Mike Shipman said Hahn came to Olney 26 years ago and “blessed us with her talents, knowledge, experience and energy.”

He said she found her dream job in Olney, praises the high standards and talents of her staff and always supports them personally and professionally.

“What you won’t hear about this person is how she spends countless hours at her job and with our community. She won’t tell you how she works every day to serve our children to make certain that everything is perfect for them. You won’t see her tears when she witnesses families being uprooted and how the children suffer under those circumstances. You won’t hear how every day she goes above and beyond all expectations of service to others,” Shipman said.

He said that with poverty increasing in the community and concerns about the issues facing young people, Hahn decided to make a difference. He said she is focused on “each and every child.”

Take a tour of ERES and Shipman said if a student is asked who they are they will respond, “I am a learner and a leader” because they have learned the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Those habits include being proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand then to be understood, synergize, sharpen the saw and find your voice.

ERES received Lighthouse Status from the Covey/Leader in Me program. It is a distinction that only 43 schools in the world share. Shipman said ERES is one of those schools because of Hahn.

In 2012, she was recognized by Illinois Principals Association as the most outstanding principal in the state. As a result, she was recognized in Washington, D.C., as one of the top elementary principals in the nation.


2011 Class Of National Distinguished Principals

NAESP honors the following outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators for setting high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities.

Suzanne Hahn
East Richland Elementary School, East Richland Community Unit School District No. 1
Olney, Illinois

 The students and staff of Suzanne Hahn’s school exercise author Dr. Stephen Covey’s “seven habits of highly effective people” daily to promote individual and school success. These practices are part of a leadership model for students that Hahn established using Covey’s concepts. Hahn opened East Richland Elementary School in 2000. By setting a collaborative, positive school climate based on high expectations for all students, she met the challenge of uniting parents as well as the teaching staffs of four schools that closed at the new school’s launch. Hahn participated in the design of the building and monitored its construction. She also developed new procedures, operations, and curricula for the school. Her key achievements during her tenure at East Richland Elementary School include establishing an exemplary reading program. She credits “repeated professional development on best reading practices with a consistent consultant over a five-year span.” With the expansion of the program, Hahn’s school became a successful demonstration site through which staff members “allow continuous school visitors to learn about best reading practices.” Enrollment at the rural school has reached 1,106 Pre-K-5 students. With 18 years of experience as an elementary school principal, Hahn last served as an assistant superintendent in her current school district. She received a B.S. from MacMurray College in Illinois and a master’s from Illinois State University.