By Corinne Wnek
“Teacher Feature” is a biweekly column that offers readers a look into today’s classrooms so they can see some of the innovative teaching that is going on by talented educators right here in our communities.
“When I graduated from Roselle Catholic in 1974, I never dreamed I’d be back as a member of the faculty just six years later,” laughs Dan Sullivan. “Teaching was definitely not something I planned on doing.”
Mr. Sullivan recalls that in his days as a student at Montclair State, he was focused on earning a big income after graduation. “I chose the three M’s… marketing, management and math and reasoned that, whatever the state of the economy, I would always be employable.” But destiny had other plans for the soft-spoken Mr. Sullivan.
“I started to think about my lifestyle and what was really important to me,” he says. “I had a change of heart about my direction and felt I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. When the opportunity to teach at RC came about, it was something I just couldn’t pass up. Thirty-two years later, I still don’t regret it because this is a very special place.”
In addition to his teaching, Mr. Sullivan has several other extra service responsibilities that include being the junior class advisor and the coordinator for transportation for the high school.
Mr. Sullivan teaches all levels of math and has empathy for the students who struggle to learn it. “Math is a discipline that requires practice, practice and more practice,” he says. “I try to get kids to think and reason and to be patient with themselves,” he says in a more serious tone. “I tell kids that just like athletes who need to practice and learn new skills, students in my class are ‘mathletes’ and the same is expected of them.”
Second to Mr. Sullivan’s love of teaching, is cooking. “In fact, if I weren’t a teacher, I now think I would have become a chef,” he says beaming. “I’m addicted to reading cookbooks and watching all the cooking shows on TV. Every time I see a chef prepare something new and easy, I rush to try it.” His favorite dish? A ‘one pot wonder’ that is a blend of sausage, chicken, tomatoes and rice and beans. But his spicy seasonings are top secret.
“If I could impress students with one thing, it would be to not give up when the going gets tough because we are always capable of doing more than we think we can. And throughout life’s journey, it’s still important to be kind to people.”
Mr. Sullivan gets a big red apple for his desk.
Corinne Wnek believes that teachers, and the administrators and boards of education which support their work, deserve a big, red apple for doing an outstanding job in shaping our most important commodity, the lives of our children. Her weekly column, “The Writer’s Block,” already appears every Friday in the online edition of this publication.
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