Headmistress Profile: Dr. Susan Traffas

If you’re looking for an example of what can be done with a classical education, look no further than our very own headmistress and classroom teacher, Dr. Susan Orr Traffas. Even when it seemed as though her career was taking different paths, all her steps were clearly connected. This past April, upon her retirement from Benedictine College, she even gave a lecture on that idea entitled, “The Charm of Competence, Revisited: The Liberal Arts vs. the Social Sciences,” in which she spoke on how her education in great books informed her career in D.C. in child welfare policy.

We are always saying that a classical education is that which teaches a student how to think deeply and be able to use the skills they develop here and in the future. Dr. Traffas is the perfect example of that. Where other people saw a need to further tweak a broken system built on misunderstandings in human nature, she was able to see the foundational problems and address those, making her more capable to handle the task at hand than she would have been if she had only been educated in the “proper” understanding of sociology.

Diving deep into the really human things that classical education promotes doesn’t turn a person into a stuffy academic, but into an empathetic, engaged part of a community. Again, we can see how Dr. Traffas has lived that out in her own life. In speaking to one of her former students, he said:

“Dr. Traffas, more than any other professor, taught me the importance of reading the Greats. ALL of the Greats; which meant even the ones you think you disagree with. She taught me to think with them, laugh with them, and to strive to imitate them. Beyond the seminar, she was an excellent counselor on any matter because she was wise and cared immensely that all of her students learned to live well. Not only did she teach me about what it means to be a scholar, a statesman, a gentleman, and a disciple; she increased my desire to become such.”

– Jack N., former student of Dr. Traffas at Benedictine College

Another former student agreed:

“Dr. Traffas is a wonderful teacher, and is truly passionate about ensuring that real learning is taking place in all of her classrooms. She encourages every student to take the time to understand and articulate their thoughts and ideas, and to learn in a community with others. Although I learned about a wide variety of topics from Dr. Traffas, there was a cohesiveness in her teaching that prompted me to consider and appreciate learning as a whole, when Christ is at the center.”

– Emma B., former student of Dr. Traffas at Benedictine College

Classical Christian education is about forming the soul, which involves testing it and putting it up against things we might disagree with. We aren’t in the business of creating sterile environments with cushioned walls; we want to create a school where the Truth is always present so that we can learn when to recognize when someone is trying to hide or deny it.

We are looking forward to the guidance of Dr. Traffas, both in the classroom and outside of it!

Find the application for the incoming freshman class here:

Further Reading

Learn more about our Great Books program:

Read about Natural History and the other science classes offered at MSW Academy:

Visit Seeds of Wisdom, our blog, for previous entries in our summer faculty series:

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!