Buice spent her childhood and young adult years as a student in Cherokee County schools. Now, after 34 years of teaching in the county she grew up in, Buice will turn the page to retirement on May 30.
Buice spent the last 14 years at Cherokee High School teaching literature and composition, and Principal Debra Murdock said Buice is “truly a legend.”
“She’s a wonderful, wonderful teacher. One of our best,” Murdock said Tuesday. “It’s certainly sad to see her go. The kids are very sad to see her go. She’s a legend around here.”
Murdock said many students have told her that Buice gave them a gift by teaching them how to write well.
Buice teaches senior Advanced Placement literature, senior honors composition, freshmen honors literature and summer school through the district’s Bridge program.
“I love literature,” Buice said. “If you don’t love what you teach, then the students are never going to love it. ... I love grammar.”
Murdock said Buice is one of the great teachers “that you hate to see retire, but you understand they deserve it.”
“She’s young in her retirement,” Murdock said. “So she’s got a chapter of her life, or two or three, that she’s yet to tell. So we’re excited for her.”
Murdock said the Cherokee High School juniors who had Buice for freshmen honors literature are taking her retirement the hardest — disappointed they won’t get the chance to have one more class with her as seniors.
“We’re hoping very much she doesn’t get too far away from us,” Murdock said. “She lives in the community and we’ve already made some plans to keep her busy (volunteering) next year.”
Buice said every class has held a going away party for her retirement, but it doesn’t make the transition easy.
“My first group of ninth-grade honors that I had three years ago will be seniors next year,” Buice said. “So, I think they’re taking it harder than anyone else because they had so looked forward to having me in AP lit next year. There have been a lot of tears.”
Buice said some days she’s excited, and some days she’s sad to leave behind her long teaching career.
“Teaching is who I am,” Buice said. “It’s all I’ve known to do… I’ve got to rediscover who I am now.”
Buice said she hopes her legacy will remain with students and co-workers long after she’s left her teaching career.
“I hope my students know that I love them,” Buice said. “They’re seniors, but they’re still my babies. I’m known for being a tough teacher, and I understand that, but I’m also known for being a teacher who loves my kids. I tell them all the time, ‘I love you enough to push you to be your very, very best.’”
Murdock said “that’s an extraordinary statement,” and definitely the legacy Buice has left in Cherokee’s history.
Murdock said Buice is known for having high expectations of her students and herself.
“Susan’s test scores are among the highest in the state, for her student’s AP test scores,” Murdock said.
A Canton resident, Buice was a student at Canton Elementary and then Cherokee High School, mirroring her future career.
She went to college at Reinhardt University in Waleska, before teaching at Canton Elementary School for two decades, where she was named the countywide District Teacher of the Year.
“I learn every day,” Buice said. “I started teaching because I wanted to be a permanent student… I literally started teaching because I loved to learn. I became a teacher the day I learned that I love my students.”
Buice went on to be named in the top four teachers statewide in 1990, and the first runner-up for Georgia Teacher of the Year.
“I was the only teacher from an elementary school, and I was the only one from north Georgia,” Buice said. “I’ll always treasure that.”
Next, Buice moved to Cherokee High School, where she’s been for the past 14 years, garnering many titles such as Teacher of the Month.
A retirement celebration was held earlier in May at the Cherokee Conference Center at the Bluffs, where Buice said many of her past and present students came to see her into the next chapter of her life.