Beloved Sullivan Moves on From Teaching After Thirty One Years


Retiring English teacher stands in front of a bulletin board in her classroom.

Dana Morrone

Retiring English teacher stands in front of a bulletin board in her classroom.
Retiring English teacher stands in front of a bulletin board in her classroom.

Walpole High School’s English department welcomed a new teacher to their team in 1971. Over her course of 21 years, she taught all levels of high school English and even overlooked The Rebellion for 15 years until 2007. As this school year comes to a close, Walpole High School will be wishing the best upon Mrs. Beth Sullivan as she retires after  31 years of teaching.

Mrs. Sullivan graduated from Bridgewater State University with a degree in English and Education, then graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in what she describes as her “passion”: theater.

Mrs. Sullivan taught at Brockton High School for 9 years and then Easton Junior High for one year until finally arriving at Walpole High School, where she would spend the next 21 years with her haven as the classroom. She has taught a vast majority of students at our school—ranging all the way from CP2 courses to Honors.

When Mrs. Sullivan first arrived to Walpole High School, she was accepted for the job and was immediately asked to take over administration of The Rebellion after being turned down leadership of the Drama Club due to an already taken position.

With no previous experience in journalism or any publications, Mrs. Sullivan gladly accepted the challenge and overlooked the student newspaper on her own. She explained that even though she had no prior experience, her husband was working for the Boston Globe at the time, so he could guide her through the the process. Mrs. Sullivan said, “[I thought to myself] If you can put a play together you can put a newspaper together.”

Because she grew up in a generation not yet introduced to computers, she had to teach herself the digital strings behind The Rebellion: Adobe, PageMaker applications, and digital photography. “Having to do that is what brought me into the 21st century,” she said.

Students who have had Mrs. Sullivan over the course of their high school careers described her as “motivating” and “passionate” and “extremely helpful.” Principal. Stephen Imbusch described her as “always hav[ing] a smile on her face.”

Ms. Lauren Culliton, head of the English Department, is sad to lose a member of her department. “She’s the most nurturing person in our department. She is like a mother to many of her students and to most of the teachers in the department. With B-Sull’s retirement, we are losing a wealth of experience and knowledge,” she said.

As for time spent after retirement, Mrs. Sullivan has ambitious dreams to continue doing everything she admires. She plans to continue her love for theater and travel, attending plays for recreation, and perhaps working in theater (whether it be collecting tickets, ushering, or working backstage). Other time spent could be at the Museum of Fine Arts, where Mrs. Sullivan would love to give tours or be a docent. Whatever it may be, she said, “I’m excited for a new phase.”

Reflecting on her experience though, she said that her career is one that she would recommend to anyone. She said, “Over my 40 years of teaching, the elements of being a kid (curiosity, imagination, the lack of motivation)- it’s all the same…You come every day and you never know who you really touch and what ways you might have been helpful that you aren’t even aware of…everything you give, you get in return,” she said.

For someone who gave everything she had every single day for 32 years, Walpole High and the English Department will definitely miss that motherly, passionate something that defined Mrs. Sullivan’s  tenure.