Katie Sullivan, Waitsfield, is retiring after teaching at Warren Elementary School for 31 years, the majority of her 40-year teaching career. She began as an environmental educator at an outdoor school near Philadelphia, then was hired as an assistant teacher at an independent Quaker school in the city in 1983. “I did not have a teaching certificate but I had lots of experience working with kids,” she said. “They hired me to teach fourth grade and my amazing teammates mentored me. I taught third and fourth grade for seven years. I wanted to move back to Vermont, where I was born, so I applied for a peer review to get certified to teach in public school. I taught a combined second- and third-grade class for one year at Ripton Elementary, then came to Warren 31 years ago.” She started out teaching fourth grade at Warren, then the grades combined and she’s taught grades three and four for many years.
She said when she came to Warren, “I couldn’t believe what a great school Warren was, and still is. It was child centered and inclusive, valued cooperative learning, experiential learning and the whole community was involved in the school. The teachers worked in teams rather than just in their own individual classrooms. It wasn’t the image of public school that I had. It’s why I stayed here for 31 years.”
What Sullivan loves most about teaching is building relationships with students and their families. “It’s an amazing thing to be part of helping children learn,” she said.
“Some highlights for me are when we started the intermediate unit (third and fourth grades). We began a tradition of an overnight camping trip that has always created wonderful memories.” Typically, the group has camped at Button Bay State Park. “It’s been a fabulous tradition in our school,” Sullivan said. The trip stopped during COVID but she hopes the tradition will return.
“In 2007 I had the honor of being the Vermont Teacher of the Year which was an incredible and long-lasting experience. The biggest highlight is all the amazing kids, families, and colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years,” she said.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be doing next. I’m looking forward to slowing my pace a bit. I do not want to lose touch with The Warren School. I will continue as a board member on the Friends of the Mad River and some other volunteer work. The rest is a big question mark.”