Suzanne Buchanan, voted best teacher in the Wood River Valley, is shown here at the Community School in Sun Valley, where she teaches children ages 3-5.
Photo by Roland Lane
Best teacher says she learns from her students
Suzanne Buchanan is passionate about educating youngsters.
Suzanne Buchanan doesn't know why she was voted best teacher in the Wood River Valley, but when one listens to her talk about teaching, the answer becomes clear.
"I honestly don't know," Buchanan said. "I didn't expect it at all. I'm still extremely humbled by it. I'm honored and in awe. I think, 'Oh my goodness, someone did take notice.'
"I'm passionate about my job. I wake up every Monday, and like everyone else, I think to myself, I have to get moving, but when I get there, I get that passion.
"I really love being around the children. They enliven me. It's a joy being around them. They see things that to us are normal, but to them it's magical and a wonder. I'm being enlivened myself by them. They show me what it's all about.
"Thank you very much to everyone who voted, and to all the families who entrust me with their children."
Buchanan teaches children ages 3-5 at the Early Childhood Center at the Community School in Sun Valley, a job she has held since 2010.
"They enliven me. It's a joy being around them.
They see things that to us are normal,
but to them it's magical and a wonder."
The private school employs what is referred to as "Reggio-inspired" methodology of teaching at the Early Childhood Center. With the methodology, Buchanan explained, teachers determine what the children are interested in and use that as a teaching path.
"This year, it's snakes," Buchanan said. "So I take their passion for snakes and we go from there. We drive deeper, wherever they want to go."
She said the children were inspired to learn about snakes by "Slither," a ball python who lives at the Community School. Slither, who shows an obvious affinity for people, was found abandoned at a home in Hailey three years ago and adopted by the school.
"Now he has a wonderful home," Buchanan said. "The kids love him."
Buchanan has three children of her own: Braden, 10, Elise, 8, and Will 6. All three are students at the Community School. Her husband Patrick is an agent for State Farm Insurance. The family lives in Hailey.
"I have found my calling in life and that is being a teacher and a mother," Buchanan said.
The Buchanans moved to the Wood River Valley eight years ago from Austin, Texas.
"We decided that is not where we wanted to raise our children," Suzanne said. "We just did it and never looked back."
She now considers the valley home and has no plans to leave.
"I love the quietness," she said. "I love how everyone is friendly. I love to go to the grocery store and see people I know. I love how my kids can walk down the street and be safe. I love the clean air.
"I love how active you can be here. I can take my kids floating down the river. I can take my kids on a hike. I can take my kids on a bike ride. I can do all that and not have to drive very far.
"I thought, 'This is it—this is the best gift I can give my children.' We have so much here."