Dr. Damaris Rau

Dr. Damaris Rau; Lancaster school district; Lancaster; headshots by waxman; harrisburg headshots; hershey headshots; first Latino superintendent; Lancaster Latino School Superintendent; La Voz, La Voz Latina Central

Nowadays, we tend to get lost in the chaos and commotion of our own lives. We focus on family, our finances and career paths, but we often forget about what made us who we are and how we got here in the first place.

A native of New York, a self-proclaimed book nerd and former clarinet player, Dr. Damaris Rau is the first female Latino superintendent of the School District of Lancaster (SDoL). A challenging role, as she acknowledges, Rau is winning over the support and admiration of the community.

According to Rau, she is particularly honored for being selected as the superintendent because she wants to serve as a role model for girls, Latino girls specifically.

SDoL is comprised of 60 percent of students with a Latino background, but the SDoL staff is not as diverse. She thinks it’s important that students see people who look like them and share common backgrounds.

“They should see that other Latinos have been successful due to hard work and dedication,” she says.

Rau believes all students can meet high expectations. For many of the students, they may be the first generation to attend school beyond high school. For this reason, Rau hopes to serve as a role model as a female, Latina and first-generation college graduate.

Education is the No. 1 factor that drives change and creates opportunities in life. Rau truly believes that education is what enabled her to rise out of multi-generational poverty. “If we want our students to attend college, we must provide them the support to get there,” she says.

Rau tries to attend as many community events as possible, especially in the Latino community.  She speaks to parents and students about attending college.  Because she can speak to them in their native language, parents are more apt to speak to her about their concerns regarding their children.  They frequently express that college is not an option for their child due to the high costs of tuition.  However, they are often not familiar with the various ways students can get assistance.  This is especially true for Latino and African-American students.  Colleges often provide substantial grants to minorities in order to diversify their college campuses.  So it is important to inform parents that college is an option for students and that there are many ways to fund a college education.

You can find Rau at most community events. She understands that she needs to be a recognizable face in the Lancaster area.

When she is not working, Rau enjoys reading murder mysteries, salsa dancing with her husband, Craig, and spending downtime with her dog, Parker.

Ali Waxman

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