A Teacher’s Lesson on Giving Back: Paul Hagenau


, A Teacher’s Lesson on Giving Back: Paul Hagenau, Academy at the Lakes

Paul Hagenau’s career as an educator spans five decades, three schools, and two states.

You could say that Hagenau has seen it all during his time attending, visiting, and working at schools.

And yet, he says, “Academy at the Lakes is different.”

“This school has more of a sense of community than the other schools I’ve taught at and known, said Hagenau. “It has more of a sense of family – a school family. In a way, it’s less institutional.”

It’s the Academy difference that has kept Hagenau here in the classrooms since 1998. Known for his challenging Advanced Placement U.S. History classes, this teacher can’t help but offer an historical analogy when describing his beloved school.

“Academy offers more opportunities to different kinds of kids,” said Hagenau. “One thing I would compare it to is straight out of my AP U.S. History Class. During the Great Depression, when the government was creating programs to create jobs for people, one of those programs was noted for the fact that it created jobs for people with different abilities and skills. It created jobs for artists, and jobs for musicians. It gave them opportunities as well. This school does a good job of that. This school does a good job of letting students bloom in their own garden.”

In 2006, Hagenau flirted with retirement before returning to once again teach at Academy.

In honor of that retirement, Academy friends and families created an endowment called the W. Paul Hagenau Endowed Scholarship Fund. The fund is intended to provide scholarship dollars to deserving students with demonstrated financial need.

Hagenau, while honored at the gesture, only recently began to consider how he might give new life to the endowment that bears his name.

Said Hagenau: “Beth Hult, Academy’s Director of Development, said to me: ‘This is your legacy.’ And when you get to my age, that really strikes a note. This will be something that will have my name on it.”

Hagenau decided to focus on building an Academy at the Lakes Alumni Association that understands the meaning of giving back.

“I want to be involved in that,” said Hagenau. “There aren’t many people who know all of the alumni. And I think that (building this endowment) could be a nice alumni project over the years. Every year, I want to have a drive among alumni to build this fund.”

Hagenau has personally reached out to dozens of AATL alumni to spread the word about the scholarship endowment and request their support. He’s even pledged to match 50 percent of each alumna/us donation, up to $1,000.

“We started on the ground floor with this year’s seniors and I asked all of the seniors for gifts, and I got 100 percent participation from the senior class. We raised $300 from the seniors and I included my offer to match 50% of what was given this year.”

He joked, “I think our seniors have cost me more money than the alumni have at the moment.”

Hagenau acknowledges that building an Alumni Association along with a culture of giving will take the time and effort of many. He hopes that his example will set a path for his former students to follow.

In addition to raising money for the scholarship endowment, Hagenau also has included Academy at the Lakes in his estate, thus becoming just the second person to recognize the school in his estate planning.

Ever the history teacher, Hagenau hopes his example will impart a lasting lesson on his pupils.

“This school has more of a sense of community than the other schools I’ve taught at and known, I hope our Academy students and alumni see how important it is to give back to the school and give back to future generations.”