Whether he’s teaching public speaking and US literature, coaching middle school track, leading one of his many camps, or auctioning off a cake for the Edina Education Fund, Jon “Buck” Buckley’s voice and leadership has left a lasting mark on Edina Public Schools.
Buck has been a teacher in Edina since 2000 when he started at Valley View Middle School, but now finds himself at Edina High School where he hopes to teach his students the importance of successful communications and leadership skills.
“My goal isn’t to just be a teacher and teach facts, but to teach the kids skills that are going to help them be successful in whatever they do in life,” Buck explains. “Everyone in the world has a different calling, but whatever job we choose to pursue, I want to help my students be successful at that job.”
This passion of his, pushes him to be the best teacher and role model for his students and that energy can be felt in his classroom as well as throughout the community.
“At the end of every class I stand outside my door and say goodbye to all my students and almost every student says, ‘Thank you Mr. Buckley’ and that means the world to me,” he says. “I love what I do and love being at Edina High School and I feel very fortunate for being a part of the Edina community.”
When he’s not in school teaching, Buck finds himself at Valley View Middle School teaching the boys and girls track team and working to build a successful program. Not successful in terms of wins and losses, but successful by how much fun the kids are having and how much they are learning.
An aspect of the track team that Buck has built up is the captain’s program that focuses on leadership opportunities for the kids. The captains are fellow middle schoolers who help with the program and learn skills about leadership and communication.
“These kids are not only helping with the program, but we do trainings with them to teach them how to be a leader and what it means to lead,” Buck explains. “We take real life situations that we experience in our program and talk about what worked and what could be done differently and learning from that.”
Once school is out and his teaching and coaching duties end, Buck puts on another hat and leads and works summer camps for the community, something he’s been doing since 1994. He is the Director of Bucks EBS (Excellence in Building Skills) Camps and works with other Edina teachers and students to lead track, basketball, and tennis camps as well as Minecraft and writing camps.
“I want to create experiences that are successful and positive for every single kid that comes through our programs,” Buck describes. “Camps are a great way for me to connect with kids and to build them up as people that are going to be successful in this world and help give them confidence and skills.”
Like he does with his track team, Buck provides leadership opportunities for older kids in his camps by having middle school, high school, and recent grads act as leaders and coaches during the summer. He works with them directly and helps train and guide them to be a successful leader and grow as a person, which in turn inspires the next generation of leaders.
“I can tell you that several of our coaches were campers when they were little and looked up to the middle and high school coaches and said that they wanted to be like them one day and now they are,” Buck says proudly. “We have this cyclical return of giving back to the community which I think is so important.”
This growing group of young leaders has allowed Buck to introduce a new format to his Hornets Girls’ Basketball Camp, with the entire camp being led by current and former Edina High School girls’ basketball players.
“These current and former students will be in charge of making the decisions and running the show. We are going to have young girls seeing the older girls and women being leaders,” Buck explains.
All of these youth leadership opportunities that Buck has created are intentional as he knows the value of mentoring the next generation of leaders and wants to give them the best tools and experience to succeed later in life.
“I think it is imperative that we have youth leaders serving as role models and mentors and coaching our young kids because they are the future,” Buck concludes. “We need to continue to train and mentor them so our world can continue to become a better place and continue to have good, kind people making great decisions and doing awesome things.”