At six years of age, Rachel Buck ʼ01 (ED), ʼ02 MA already knew she wanted to be a teacher. A graduate of the Neag School of Educationʼs Integrated Bachelorʼs/Masterʼs (IBM) program, her five-year-old daughter now tells Buck that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
“My children can do whatever they want to do, as long as they want to go to UConn,” says Buck, who is part of a family of educators. Her father is Keith Barker, professor of computer science and engineering and former longtime director of UConnʼs Institute for Teaching and Learning. Her mother worked with special needs students, and her two brothers have taught at universities.
Buck graduated from high school at 16, applying only to UConn, and won a Nutmeg Scholarship. When she was not studying, she was a member of the UConn Marching Band, where she met her husband, Christopher Buck ʼ02 (BUS), who is now vice president of Buckʼs Ice Cream, a family-owned business based in Milford, Conn.
Buck has taught math at the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy in East Hartford, Conn., for nearly a decade. “I thought about teaching at the college level, but one of the things I really like about high school is that students have to come to school,” Buck says. “I like getting them at the point where Iʼm preparing them for college.”
And her students are very well prepared. In 2010, Buck received her own magnet schoolʼs Teacher of the Year award. Last year, the Neag School of Education awarded her the Outstanding School Educator Award, while the East Hartford Rotary Club recognized Buck as a Paul Harris Fellow for Exemplary Service.
The curriculum Buck teaches is based on the requirements of the International Baccalaureate organization, a nonprofit foundation based in Wales. “The emphasis is 100 percent on trying to get kids to be global citizens who are caring, knowledgeable, and inquisitive,” she says.
Students are continually raising money for charities, often at events that Buck oversees. She serves as advisor for the Student Advisory Board and Interact Club and an advisor for the schoolʼs community service program: Creativity, Action, and Service. “As many hours as I put in, the fact that kids appreciate it and remember me – telling me years later whatʼs happening in their lives – is why I love teaching. Iʼll get an email: ʻJust wanted to let you know Iʼm sitting in this college math class, and I really appreciate what you taught me.ʼ ”