Jeff Suzik, Ph.D., 2005
Director of the Falk Laboratory School
Jeff Suzik is Director of the Falk Laboratory School at the University of Pittsburgh and holds a joint appointment as an Associate Professor in the School of Education. Already an experienced teacher when he enrolled in the Ph.D. program, Jeff’s evolving research interests (20th-century youth and adolescence) had always overlapped quite nicely with his passion for teaching, and ultimately he accepted a position teaching U.S. and World History at a Pittsburgh-area boarding school. Over and over again, Jeff found himself applying the historical content and the analytic skills associated with being a historian to his new professional life: living and working with high-school-aged students, 24/7. It proved to be a great match, and Jeff was hooked.
Over time, his work in boarding schools led to an interest in school administration, and Jeff had the opportunity to take on various administrative roles and responsibilities at several different schools across the country, including History Department Chair, Dean of Students, Director of Residential Life, Chief Academic Officer/Assistant Head of School, and finally, Head of School, first at an independent K-12 school in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and now at Falk. In each new role and at each new juncture in his career, Jeff has found that he depends on the rich and meaningful education that he received from the history Ph.D. program. “It goes without saying,” he says, “that my graduate school professors and mentors taught me to think critically and creatively, to present rich evidence and deep analysis in support of my ideas, and to speak and write with confidence and clarity. More than anything else, though, studying history at Carnegie Mellon taught me to always assess and interpret context—not simply to respond to the fact that ‘things happened,’ but to always strive to understand why and how they happened. To me, this is one of the most transferable skills that I gained in my time in the history program, one that I use every single day in running a school. It applies equally to my work with students, teachers, and parents.”