Pine-Richland paraeducator retires after 27 years of service

Monday, July 1, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Pine-Richland paraeducator Barbara Sullivan is retiring after 27 years of service, but there’s no chance she’ll soon be forgotten.

Close to 15 years after Sullivan began assisting her daughter, a former special-needs student, Keri Heaton said she and her family and Sullivan still keep in touch.

“She just always took an extra step,” Heaton said. “I knew Bailey was in good hands.”

Sullivan, who lives in Richland and turns 66 on July 3, began her career as a playground assistant and then as kindergarten assistant at Washington Elementary School in 1992. After Washington closed, she moved to Richland Elementary, where she served 16 years.

She moved to Eden Hall Upper Elementary after it opened and served as a paraeducator since.

A paraeducator helps students with special needs and the teachers in daily classroom activities. Pine-Richland spokeswoman Rachel Hathhorn said there are 57 of them in the district.

Janice Bagnato, a fourth grade teacher at Eden Hall Upper Elementary, worked alongside Sullivan and said she always had the children’s needs at the top of her to-do list.

“We’ll miss her terribly,” Bagnato said.

Eden Hall Upper Elementary principal Steven Smith said Sullivan will be greatly missed.

Student Eleanor “Ella” Perry, 12, felt good returning to school after being out sick knowing Sullivan was there.

“Ms. Sullivan is amazing,” Perry said. “I really liked her.

“She’s very caring, inspiring and very selfless. She definitely lightens the mood.”

Perry said she and Sullivan exchange emails.

Max Heckert, 15, a former student, said Sullivan made school fun.

“She was always there for me,” Heckert said. “When class was boring, she made jokes.”

Sullivan was touched by a five-page document sixthgrade teacher Eric Farmer put together filled with tributes to her.

“I never realized the impact I made,” she said.

In her retirement, Sullivan plans to spend more time with her husband, Mike, and three sons and three grandchildren.

“(My boys) shared me with the school district for a long, long time,” Sullivan said.