Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in Brighton announced the recent passing of Suzanne Klingler Johnston, who led the school as president for 14 years before retiring in 2018. She graduated from Mercy in 1961.
Johnston was principal of Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester before she came to Mercy in 2004. Her career at Wilson included initiating the International Baccalaureate study program, welcoming President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and helping the school be recognized among the top high schools in the nation by Newsweek. She also worked at West Irondequoit.
Johnston returned to her alma mater to serve as Mercy’s second president. During her tenure, she retained an adjunct teaching position at St. John Fisher College.
Johnston is described as guiding Mercy with honor, integrity and humility. She developed connections with all students, especially refugees who looked to Mercy for a safe harbor from their war-torn countries.
Under her leadership, Mercy expanded the size and caliber of its faculty and student body while broadening access and achievement. Johnston championed Mercy’s adoption of college and career readiness standards, increased student diversity, and pioneered an international student program. She oversaw the enhancement of the school’s science labs, as well as improvements to its athletics and performing arts programs.