ENGAGING STUDENTS THROUGH STORYTELLING
Scott Buchanan is an exceptional teacher who incorporates his world travels and experiences into his classroom.
Buchanan teaches seventh grade social studies at Crook County Middle School, and although teaching is his passion, it is also his second career.
The United States Air Force veteran graduated from Mountain View High School in Bend in 1983 and then attended Oregon State University, where he received his degree in history. He also went through Air Force ROTC, which paid for his college. After that, he went to flight school, where he graduated third in his class.
Buchanan wanted to see the world, and unlike so many in his class who chose to fly jets or bombers, he chose C141 cargo planes. Based out of New Jersey, he flew all over the world, and always chose to go on tours when he had time off.
He also had the opportunity to work as an instructor for flight training, teaching out of San Antonio, Texas, for four years. He was honored as Instructor of the Year five times while on this assignment.
“I absolutely loved it, and so I knew that someday teaching would be in my future,” Buchanan said of his time teaching flight school.
In his last five years in the Air Force, he was promoted to major as a general’s aid for different generals. For one four-month assignment, he was selected to work on a joint task force headed up by former President Bill Clinton called Operation Shining Hope — a humanitarian mission. “I got to brief the President a few times and meet him,” Buchanan said.
After that, Buchanan decided to move on and come home after 20 years with the Air Force. He said he was tired of living out of a suitcase. “I really had a great career in the Air Force,” he said, adding that he knew “teaching would give me a venue to share my stories.”
Coming back to Central Oregon, he picked up the master’s degree that allowed him to teach elementary through high school. Eight years ago, he came to Crook County Middle School as a long-term substitute, and when he had the opportunity to secure a permanent job at the school, he jumped on it. Buchanan said he was impressed with the teamwork and support of the staff.
He taught eighth grade language arts for five years, then had the opportunity to teach seventh grade social studies last year.
“Now, I am finally teaching something I have a passion for,” Buchanan said of teaching social studies. “With social studies, it’s getting students to think outside the box a little bit. I love middle school because the brain development is at a place where students can start to realize they can think for themselves and come up with their own opinions.”
“Mr. Buchanan incorporates his world travels and Air Force pilot career into a fun and intriguing learning experience,” CCMS Principal Kurt Sloper said. “Students find themselves entertained and learning at the same time through his rich storytelling. Most of all, students know that he wants them to succeed in his class and life.”
He tells his students about places he has visited such as Greece and Rome, and his stories help bring the material to life and make it relevant.
“If I have a gift, I think that’s what it is — I make what we learn relevant to the world they live in,” Buchanan said.
“Scott is a teacher who really engages with his classes,” said fellow instructor and colleague Matt Fischer. “He pours a lot into his time with his students, and they really enjoy that time. Scott is a very dedicated teacher, and he makes a big impact on a lot of kids’ lives.”
Buchanan feels like his teaching position is a perfect match, and as he points to photos of his world travels and experiences, he explains how these make his teaching come alive.
“I get to bring that in with first-hand experience and stories, and kids are totally engaged in it.”