Sullivan reflects on experience at RB

Photo+courtesy+of+Lori+Sullivan.

Photo courtesy of Lori Sullivan.

Azucena Gama, Editor-in-Chief

The end of every school year always comes with the unfortunate news that teachers are leaving, and this year is no different; science teacher Lori Sullivan will be departing after 27 years at RB. 

Sullivan began at Lindop Elementary School in Broadview, IL teaching junior high science and was involved with West 40, an educational cohort in Cook County. Through them, she found her place at RB. Initially teaching Introductory Physical Science to freshmen, Sullivan also worked with retired science teacher Mr. Michon to cover some of his earth science classes.

“I would teach one or two during a year, and then the next year, I’d only teach one, so I kind of had the overflow for earth science. And then when he retired, I just took over there,” Sullivan said.

Now, Sullivan is in charge of Earth science, applied chemistry, and physics. She is teaching freshmen, juniors, and seniors. Earth science is her niche, though. There is no shortage of topics in that class and ways to teach them. She believes that many kids come in with the preconceived notion that science is hard, but that is where she comes in. 

“Earth science has the really big topics, plate tectonics, the plates move, it makes earthquakes, and they know about them, even if they’ve never seen them, so I feel like if we can build on their background knowledge and what they already know, then they realize, okay, this isn’t that new,” Sullivan said. 

Students are a big part of her passion. She loves it when kids come back and can say that they have grown and had somebody to thank because of that. 

“I love it when kids come back, and they want me to know what they’re doing now. Especially if a kid had a problem or really struggled in high school and they come back, and they say, ‘I just wanted you to know this is what I’m doing now. And you never gave up on me. And I just wanted you to know I’m happy, and this is where I am.’ That’s really cool,” Sullivan said.

Now that she is retiring, her past students are coming back and paying it forward. So it is a real circle-of-life feeling. 

“I’ve had people find out that I’m retiring, and now they live in the Hollywood district and have a third-grader and a newborn. He was in my first class in 1994.”

Her original plan was to retire in 2023, but the pandemic, much like other things, affected that. She agrees that the transition to remote learning was stressful and believes the following school year will be critical. 

“Next fall is going to be really important. And I just, I don’t know that I could give it all of the energy it needs,” Sullivan said. 

With her newfound time, she plans on spending more time with her family down-state. She brings many fond memories, such as the solar eclipse, bringing her sons to football games, and all of the excitements of working at the deans’ office. RB has truly become her home away from home. 

“There’s a reason I stayed at RB for 27 years, and that’s because they really have become my family. They watched my kids; my boys were really, really young when I started here. They were 3 and 5, and now they’re 32 and 30… I didn’t have family close by, so really RB teachers have always been very supportive of me and my kids,” Sullivan said.

Treasured memories such as these are another reason why she has such a passion for teaching. She wants every student to experience what RB can offer. 

“I want all the kids to have fun memories. My goal is that every kid walks into this building and there’s a teacher that they look forward to talking to every day. I want every kid to feel like when they’re here, somebody notices what they do, what they like and pays attention to it. And I think RB does that. I think we do that really, really well, which is why it’s no coincidence I stayed here for this long. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”