Rene Cazier sits at her desk to do paperwork.
But when she talks to parents, her staff and her students, the new River Oaks Elementary School principal sits side-by-side, eliminating that barrier between them.
Replacing Robert Homer, who has moved to Seaside Elementary School, Cazier has come back to Horry County Schools after a stint in Las Vegas.
“That connection is important, being accessible, making eye contact, I don’t want to have that desk between us,” she says.
She and her husband James, a teacher at St. James Middle School, left the Grand Strand about 10 years ago to be near her mother-in-law who was ill, and who has since passed away.
“I always knew we’d be back,” Cazier says.
Being director of human resources for Horry County Schools from 2006-2009 is part of a diverse background in education she brings to River Oaks.
She’s been an elementary school teacher, a special ed teacher, a gifted and talented teacher, a principal, an assistant principal and an instructional coach, and has known since her junior high school days that education was her calling.
Because of the cut-off dates for starting school back in upstate New York, Cazier started school at 4 years old, struggling to catch up during her first few years.
“I was one of the youngest ones, but I had a teacher who believed in me and encouraged me, and as that momentum grew, I did catch up.
“That teacher loved me and cared for me and said, ‘You can do this, you can keep up with the other kids,’ and I believed her.”
By high school, Cazier was an honor student and graduated at 17, and after volunteering in the local elementary school, she knew “this was my calling.”
Because her husband is also an educator, he is, she says, a great support to her.
“We’re in this together and he understands me. We devote our lives to the children, and we’re both very passionate about that work.”
She plans to spend much more time in the River Oaks classrooms than in her own office, and says, “As an instructional leader, you need to be in the classroom.
“I scoot right up to the kids and whisper, ‘What are you learning?’
“You have to be present in the classroom, not only to support the children, but to support the teachers as well.”
Cazier’s goals as ROES principal include “having the children get the best education they can have.
“I will partner with their parents in that process because it takes a team to help grow children.”
Growing up near Binghamton, New York, with a mechanical engineer father and a mother who worked in a bank, the principal is one of three children with a large extended family.
She and her husband, married 14 years, live in Myrtle Beach, attend Beach Church and have two rescue dogs, Gracie and Zoe.
The couple enjoys the outdoors, including skiing, and travels extensively.
They were married in St. Lucia in the Caribbean and have been to the Dominican Republic, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and Barbados, as well as to other destinations.
Visits to Ecuador and Peru were mission trips with church.
“As an educator, I can share those experiences with students as part of the journey in life and share that there are so many wonderful opportunities for them out there.”
Cazier plans to be “highly involved” in school and community activities, and anticipates bringing some new activities too.
“My parents live here and my sister lives here, and we are vested in this community,” she says.
“You have to be present in the classroom, not only to support the
children, but to support
the teachers as well.”
Rene Crazier, principal
River Oaks Elementary School