Western Reserve Academy will have new leadership when classes resume Monday, as the community welcomes newly appointed Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck, the first female to serve in the top leadership position.
In a release, the school said Buck and her family will live in Pierce House, a historic 1855 residence on the north end of WRA’s 190-acre campus. One of her first duties will be to make sure Pierce House not only serves her family but also the student body. Pierce House is undergoing an interior renovation to make sure the Head of School’s home also feels like a welcoming hub for the community, the release stated.
Buck’s husband Johnny joins WRA’s faculty as a member of the Fine & Performing Arts Department teaching Foundational Art, 2-Dimensional Art and Environmental Art. In the winter, he will be hosting one of the school’s nearly 50 ECHO modules, which are modeled after college electives. In Buck’s "Upcycling," students will reuse and repurpose materials in creative ways.
The Bucks promise to be a visible part of Reserve’s residential culture. They’re known for taking walks across campus, attending games and performances, eating meals in the dining hall with students, hosting movie watching parties in their home and meeting as many people in their communities as possible. Buck has chosen to have a second office in the center of student life on campus, inside Seymour Hall, where she plans to start each day.
Buck has spent her early days in Hudson meeting with city and civic officials and community members, and she is committed to and excited by collaboration between Hudson and Reserve.
"Hudson has given us the warmest welcome," Buck said. "How fortunate we are to be situated at the heart of a town that is historic and progressive, embracing and beautiful."
Another of Buck’s first orders of business is a travel schedule that begins in late August. Dubbed "The Buck Stops Here Tour," this series will take Buck across the nation to meet WRA alumni and prospective students in several cities including Hudson, Cleveland, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
Buck has held posts at Fay School in Connecticut, New Hampton School in New Hampshire and most recently served as the rector at Chatham Hall, an all-girls boarding school in Virginia. Buck’s engagement with boarding schools is deep. She serves on the Boards of The Association of Boarding Schools and the Enrollment Management Association, and she is a graduate of both the Fay School and Miss Porter’s School, also in Connecticut.
"Western Reserve Academy today, at nearly 200 years old, is a captivating mix of pride and joy," Buck said. "The pride is in the traditions, the academic excellence and the school’s core values. The joy is what we aspire to see in all our students; it is an outcome we want for everyone who encounters Western Reserve Academy."
Buck notes how joy and academic excellence interrelate.
"Joy is not the antithesis of rigor," she says. "It is instrumental to learning. From a curricular standpoint, this means furthering an academic program that encourages the thrill of collaboration, discovery and forward thinking."
New year ahead
The Bucks aren’t the only new faces on the WRA campus when school starts Aug. 19. Buck appointed Interim Associate Head of School Dr. Nicholas Kent.
Kent brings a vivid worldview to Hudson, coming to Hudson via Seattle, Jakarta, Shanghai and Potomac, Md. Most recently in Jakarta, he was Deputy Head of School at Jakarta Intercultural School.
Buck also appointed new Director of College Counseling Jennifer Berry. Berry joins WRA from the New Hampton School, bringing more than 30 years of experience and a student-centered approach to the interim position.
The new year brings 136 new students, for a total of almost 400 students at the high school. Two-thirds of WRA students are boarders, with 17 countries and 26 states represented.
The 2019-20 academic year will also be the first for a new department at the school, the Integrated Studies & Design Department (ISD). ISD allows faculty to create new courses that may not fit squarely into one of the traditional departments.
ISD offerings include self-guided community and entrepreneurial courses like Compass and required courses that optimize the school’s Wang Innovation Center, including Learning to Code and Learning to Make. WRA was recently ranked the No. 1 Private High School in Ohio for STEM.
While the 2019-20 academic year welcomes new faces and a new department, distinctive curricular offerings like College Level (CL) courses and Cancer Immunology continue to flourish.
WRA was the first school in the region to move beyond Advanced Placement courses, ending the need to teach to standardized tests, and instead offering more immersive, highest level courses called College Level. WRA is also the only high school that offers cancer immunology courses where students conduct research at Case Western University and the Cleveland Clinic.
This year, the school also continues its long tradition of an "everybody plays" approach to athletics. Pioneer-athletes play 24 interscholastic sports. An athlete and coach herself, Buck looks forward to the connective power of joy in sports.
Building on a successful year where they saw a 73% combined winning percentage, Pioneer Athletics anticipates an exciting year.
Girls Basketball welcomes back stand out player Jai DuVal '20 and Wrestling looks forward to more successes for Manzona Bryant '20 who continues to be a top wrestler in the country, with a second place finish in last year’s National Preps.
Boys Basketball welcomes 6'5'' Guard/Forward Dimitrije Radusinovic from Podgorica, Montenegro.