Tri-City Ledger -

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By Gretchen McPherson
Staff Writer 

Sullivan steps down after 59 years in ed.


June 17, 2021

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Sullivan says goodbye to students on her last day as Byrneville principal

Dee Sullivan, principal of Byrneville Elementary School, is retiring at age 80 with 59 years in education.

Sullivan grew up in Michigan and got her elementary education degree from Western Michigan University then moved to California to begin her teaching career.

After six years, Sullivan moved to Pensacola in 1969, where she taught in the Escambia County School System.

"My first husband's family was from Alabama," said Sullivan. "And my family was from Michigan, and we wanted to be closer to family, but not right next door. He had a sister living in Pensacola whose husband had a cabinet shop and offered my husband a job, so we moved to Pensacola."

While in Pensacola, Sullivan was a classroom teacher, a curriculum coordinator, assistant principal and then principal.

When Byrneville Elementary School became a charter school in 2002, she came to serve as principal there and loved being there.

"It has been a wonderful experience," said Sullivan. "I have been so fortunate to have excellent teachers who give more than 100 percent and parents who are very cooperative and understanding and then children who have been my life. It's just a joy."

When asked what she thought the biggest change in teaching or the education system since she began her teaching career is, Sullivan said the state mandates, rules and regulations that restrict educators, extra security and simply put, a lot of bureaucracy.

"Children have not changed," said Sullivan. "They come eager and willing to learn. If we could just keep the outside out of the school building. It would be so much more pleasurable, although I've never seen it as going to work, I was just going to school."

Sullivan said she is stepping down because she has been in education 58 years, although it is difficult. She said she has worked since she was a child.

"I've worked since I was 10 years old," she said. "I had set up a little babysitting business and I have always just worked."

Sullivan said she never wanted to do anything but be a teacher and she got into the administrative side of education so she could offer the young people who were accountable to her feel relaxed and happy to be coming to work place where they knew they were appreciated and doing a wonderful job.

Sullivan said she and her husband want to travel around the U.S. and visit children and grandchildren, but she hopes to do some educational consulting upon return from traveling.

"It has been worth all of it and the major majority has been a wonderful experience," said Sullivan. "And I wouldn't trade it for anything."


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