Tracie Sullivan was in elementary school when she began teaching.
From a young age, Sullivan strived to be a teacher, so much so that her elementary teachers gave her leftover worksheets that she would take home and “teach” her little sister.
Now, Sullivan is in her 23rd year as an educator and 11th year with Central Heights High School. Before Central Heights, she was a high school English teacher at Woden.
Sullivan teaches 10th grade English and elective journalism courses. As the year progresses and the students prepare for the next steps in their educational journey, she wants them to leave her class with a strong ability to communicate.
“I want them to feel confident in their communication skills,” Sullivan said. “We work on communicating within class discussions, within small group settings for book clubs and station work and through individual writing. These are skills that will carry my students into and through adulthood.”
Despite the early desire to be a teacher, teaching wasn’t on the radar for Sullivan in high school or the beginning stages of college. Instead, she wanted to be a pharmacist. But, after a few college science courses, she chose a different path. She graduated with a double major in business and English.
“I ended up with English because I’ve always loved it. It’s what I was good at,” Sullivan said. “I was never the best writer when I was young. I think I definitely learned some things throughout the years by teaching other people, but I have had the best mentors that were all English teachers.”
Teaching mentors for Sullivan include Mary Neal Grimland, Carolyn Rorie and Charlotte Griffith, and she also credits her parents. Her mother taught first grade her entire career and her father taught poultry science at SFA.
During her time at Central Heights, Sullivan inherited journalism classes and has led teams to UIL journalism competitions. Students have won several medals in competition and some have pursued journalism in college. Her most memorable moment as an educator came a few years ago when her UIL team won first place in state for class 3A schools.
Sullivan says she has always enjoyed teaching teenagers, and finds the most joy in seeing the metaphorical light bulb come on during a difficult lesson. She says the key to being a successful teacher is to connecting with students and building relationships.
“The key to connecting with our students and getting the most from them is that relationship. If a student knows that I care for him or her, they’re more willing to give more effort into what they’re learning.”