Education was everything in Suzanne Walker Buck’s family childhood home.
The recently named head of school at Western Reserve Academy says her parents were first-generation high school and college graduates.
Buck also had some milestones in her life. She and her brother were the first in their family to attend a boarding school. She graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and Fay School in Massachusetts.
“My parents saw the value of what a boarding school could offer to me,” she says. “It was an opportunity to live with students from all over the world and to meet people who were different than those who lived in my community. That just opened my eyes to a world that was so much bigger.”
She adds the school provided her with the benefits and opportunities to engage with teachers about different ideas and to learn in a much more extensive way.
“That really influenced me and my desire to work at a boarding school environment,” Buck says. “I wanted to be in a school that was holistic and all-encompassing.”
She also is the first woman appointed to the position of head of school at the coeducation preparatory school in Hudson.
“I am super honored to be a part of Western Reserve Academy and at a school that has been in existence for nearly 200 years,” Buck says. “My predecessors did incredible work to bring the school to where it is today. I don’t know if I think it’s remarkable that I am a woman. I just think I am the right leader for the school at this point. I am proud to be a woman. I am excited to break a barrier, but I just want to be seen as a strong leader.”
When asked why she chose Western Reserve Academy for her new home after serving as head of school at Chatham Hall in Virginia, she says, “I fell in love with the spirit of the school. The values of the institution align with who I am as an educator and person.”
For students, Buck says she wants to bring a sense of welcoming and inclusion whether they are a boarder or a day student, adding there are plans for hosting fireside chats, movies and other events to help the kids feel like they belong.
“We want to create a sense of home for everyone,” she says. “We want to look at the concept of joy — how do we define joy, where does it exist and how can we acknowledge and create additional space for it to emerge.
“I see (joy) as not just an emotion, but a state of being,” Buck says, adding the school will think about joy when planning curriculum and activities for students.
“The benefits for boarders are the same ones for day students,” she adds. “They, too, have the opportunity to go to school with kids from all over the world whose ideas are different from their own perspective. They get to benefit from the global community and they also get to contribute to it by sharing about themselves, their families and their local environment.”
Buck hopes to create more partnerships with the Hudson community and show how Western Reserve Academy can be a good neighbor by collaborating with local organizations for different purposes.
“We are loving Northeast Ohio,” she says of her family, husband Johnny Buck, an art teacher, coach and advisor at Western Reserve Academy, and their daughter Halsey who moved to the region this summer. Buck also has two stepchildren, Oliver, 19, and Nina, 21. “We look at Cleveland as a vibrant, exciting city. There is a cultural scene, arts, athletics, national parks — there is just so much to do.”