Mr. Sullivan joins Parkdale English team


Before coming to Parkdale this year, Mr. Sullivan worked as a middle school English teacher and also led their journalism department! We met up with him to learn more about his passions, his teachings and what he’s looking forward to this year!

Q: What are some three words you would use to define yourself?

A:  ¨Empathetic, I would say curious and last but not least I would say kind. It’s such a weird thing to say about yourselves; when you use three words to describe yourself, you have just in essence started boasting. I really do think you have to have empathy for other people, especially when you’re a teacher.  I’m curious because I feel like you really have to be curious about life, interested in things, interested in what’s happening in your life and why. And last but not least I’m kind which connects to empathy but they are kind of different things. It’s to at least try to think the best of people as possible.”

Q: Why did you become a teacher, and what’s your favorite part about being a teacher?

A:  “I became a teacher originally because I was fascinated about how people learn. I thought it was really weird how we come out and somehow we learn language without anyone really teaching us. How? You know, that makes me really fascinated. I was fascinated to teach somebody. Why do people learn and how? I just try to remind people that, you know, in all these seemingly-awful assignments, there might be something worth learning about.”

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Parkdale?

A: “I think the students really have to be my favorite thing so far. I’ve been to a bunch of different schools. I’ve generally found the students to be amicable, friendly, willing to generally actually listen, making them extremely hardworking. Despite the challenges of this pandemic, they’ve dusted themselves off, and they work hard and that’s pretty impressive.  

Q: How long have you been teaching, and what’s a big difference from teaching in Middle School than teaching in High School?

A:  “So I’ve been teaching for over a decade now, so 12 years. I started off in higher education actually. I got tired of just seeing the end result, you know; higher education, seniors, returning adults, [I wanted to know] what it would be like to teach and see what it’s like learning through somebody’s life. I’ve now [taught] all middle school, much of high school.”

“The difference between teaching in middle school and teaching in high school is definitely that more is expected of [high school] students than middle school [students]. Culturally, there is this expectation that now, with ninth graders, somehow some magical transformation has happened and they come out of a cocoon and now they can do everything that they couldn’t do three or four months ago.”

Q: As a new teacher at Parkdale, what are you looking forward to?

A:  “I am looking forward to seeing what changes happen to my students in particular, [to see] what growth they would have. So many of them feel like they are coming in behind from the pandemic. I’m looking forward to [seeing] them feel like they have made some progress. Whatever that growth means to them, not the grades, but to sound cliche, hopefully they have some real growth. I’m looking for growth that means something personally to them, not really to me.”

Q: What’s one interesting thing that you think students may not know about you?

A: “Something interesting that students may not know about me would be that I have a tattoo. That’s probably one that they wouldn’t have guessed. [My students]  would be surprised by that and definitely [something interesting] that would shock them. I got it as soon as I turned 18. No regrets or no regerts though.”