Profile: Suzanne Yaffe, MS English

William Maher

Suzanne Yaffe has always felt at home at Greenhill.

She says she feels like she has been a part of the school for years, and, in fact, she has: as a Greenhill tutor and classroom instructor; as the parent of Greenhill students; as the wife of a Greenhill teacher and administrator; and now, as a Middle School English teacher.

Yaffe grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Yale University. She was inspired to become a teacher while tutoring in the public schools of New Haven, Connecticut. During her senior year, she began looking for journalism jobs but couldn’t find a job. Her college adviser suggested that she return home to New Orleans to pursue her interest in teaching at her alma mater, Isidore Newman High School, Yaffe said.

“The first day I spent in the classroom I was sold,” Yaffe said in an email. “I knew I loved teaching.”

At Isidore Newman, she taught seventh grade English, 11th grade history and coached volleyball. Among her students was a future NFL football star, Peyton Manning.

Yaffe’s introduction to Greenhill came through her husband, Director of Academics Jason Yaffe, and her children, Jonah, now a junior, and Eli, a sixth grader, who both attend Greenhill.

In recent years, Suzanne Yaffe has tutored Greenhill students and taught an Upper School meditation and mindfulness class called Inner Light. The class grew out of her interest in meditation. Her other hobbies include yoga, gardening, cooking, music, hiking and art, she said.

Yaffe says the opportunity to teach in the Middle School arose unexpectedly because of a teacher’s last-minute departure.

Katie Peterson, head of Middle School English, says the “the hiring process was pretty unusual.” Peterson and others were searching to find someone to take the open English position when Yaffe said she would do it.

Yaffe’s willingness to embrace the challenge was a “tremendous gift,” Peterson said.

Yaffe praises the Middle School faculty for being “phenomenal” in assisting her with her transition.

Teaching during the pandemic is both exhausting and rewarding, Yaffe said.

At the same time, she said, “it feels so meaningful to be helping create some normalcy and stability and community for students and the school during a time when we all crave that.”

Despite her familiarity with Greenhill, the pandemic makes her life as a Middle School English teacher feel new and exciting, Yaffe said.

Peterson described her as “wonderful, creative and intelligent,” while students say they like Yaffe’s teaching style.

Fifth grader Brock Van Boven says she is enthusiastic and loves teaching.

“I like how she is very energetic in class,” Van Boven said.