Valley Voices

Jeannie Liao: Doc Buchanan believed in me

When a family member is a public figure, your family shares their loved one with the world.

For my dear friend Randy Buchanan Hein, she shared her father, Dr. Floyd B. Buchanan, with our community throughout her life. It is an enormous sacrifice to be the daughter of founding superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District and live your life publicly.

It is even harder to mourn the loss of a father publicly, after he suddenly left us in August, at the age of 91. Grieving is such a private, emotion-filled act which stretches our ability to manage feelings. We all move through the unexpected process in our own way, in our own time. Somehow honoring their life is a Band-aid on an aching heart and remembering their impact keeps them alive.

As an educator, my story is very similar to thousands of educators throughout the Valley. In 1989, Doc believed in me and offered me a position as a teacher.

I was 22 and oblivious to what I was signing up for. I just knew I was a hard worker, loved kids and quite honestly happy to be out of college and getting a job. Now 25 years have passed, and I am blessed to say that when Doc said, “I believe in you as a teacher,” and offered me a contract, that day defined my life as an educator.

Doc believed in me before I even knew what my potential was. He surrounded me with the finest leaders and mentors that a young, fresh-out-of-college teacher needed. He valued me as a person; he showed that he cared about his team, interviewing every teacher he hired. It was a priority to Doc to know each and every one of us, because he wanted to know us personally and ensure the very best teachers would be with his precious students.

He established core values that were simple, sensible and universal to life no matter where you live in the world. We believe in high standards, teach students to win with class and lose with dignity, surround children with winners. Education revolves around teamwork and trust. Don’t ever let students give up – get them off their duffs and get them back in the fight.

These core values are a part of Doc’s charge, a living document that is shared with every employee and the community. All of these values make us better. As educators, we emphasize these core beliefs and they transfer to every human being and how we live life.

As a mother of five, my children have had the privilege of attending Buchanan Educational Center – Doc’s namesake. He was a visible presence at numerous school events, speaking, supporting students and the community, and continually making a difference even in his 90s. His work continued beyond retirement, always encouraging and always caring about students and a community that he loved, that he created. Doc was a lifetime difference-maker.

I know his impact has touched me and his legacy will carry on through the next generation. I hope my five children know that having high standards is a great thing; that if you are going to do something, do it well.

I hope my children know that in life you will win some and you will lose some, but whatever the outcome, deal with it with dignity and class. I hope my children are surrounded by winners, people who encourage, support and believe in them in the same way that Doc believed in all of us. I hope my children develop trusting relationships and learn that solid teams make you stronger. Finally, I hope my children know the importance of never giving up no matter the circumstances. I hope that when life swings them around gets tough, that they have the strength, courage and determination to get back in the fight.

Doc was the pillar by which all things have evolved in a school district that has grown from 5,037 students in 1960 to 41,000 in 2015. He laid a solid foundation back in 1960 and to this day, the house that Doc built stands solid and will continue to hold strong for generations of students and families within the Valley. Countless lives have been touched by Doc’s brilliant leadership and remarkable vision. His presence and legacy lives on as a father, teacher, leader and a great man.

Jeannie Liao is a mother, writer and former administrator for The Fresno County Office of Education and Clovis Unified School District. Write to her at

Memorial for Dr. Floyd B. Buchanan

Time: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

When: Oct. 22

Where: Buchanan High School Multipurpose Room

Notes: Memories and stories will be shared and a brief program led by Superintendent Dr. Janet Young, along with the Buchanan family, will begin at 6 p.m.