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story.lead_photo.caption RACHEL DICKERSON/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Shelli Sullivan, a 32-year educator, is the new principal at Mustang Academy.

Shelli Sullivan never knew if she would use her degree in administration, but when she saw the job for principal of Mustang Academy, she knew that was where she needed to be.

This year marks 32 years in education for Sullivan. She taught 26 years in Arkansas and five in McDonald County.

She grew up in McDonald County and graduated from McDonald County High School. She went to Crowder College and Missouri Southern State College for her bachelor's degree and earned her master's degree in administration several years later at William Woods University.

She taught primary grades in Bentonville, Ark., at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which became Elm Tree Elementary School. She then taught third grade at Anderson Elementary School for two years. She taught second grade in Arkansas at R.E. Baker Elementary School for 11 years and then went to Southwest City Elementary School, where she taught Title 1 reading for the first through eighth grades.

When she saw the position for principal of Mustang Academy, she knew it was time to put her master's degree to work.

"Mustang Academy provides a different environment for students who don't do well in a regular classroom environment," she explained, "or maybe they just need a different approach. Some of them have moved a lot. Some were a little behind in credits. I'm really enjoying it. We're smaller, so I get to interact with them more. And I'm teaching too, which is my passion. It's really the best of both worlds. I'm able to work with them and get to know how they learn. Not every student learns the same way or the traditional way. At this age, I've done lots of goal setting with them, talking with them about what they need to do to get where they want to be."

"Even when I was in elementary and junior high, I remember going to Jo Pearcy's class to help the first-graders read," Sullivan said. "And then in high school, I was a teacher's aide for Phyllis McCulley and tutored in her class. I've always had good teachers, and that's just always what I've wanted to do."

Regarding her philosophy on education, she said, "I believe that every student can learn. It's just finding the path that we need to take to get there and believing in them until they believe in themselves."

Sullivan has some new things planned for this year. She is trying to get guest speakers to come in on Fridays. The first one was Kim Harrel, a former high school principal who was instrumental in establishing alternative education. Sullivan plans to invite other speakers who can speak about inspiration, struggles, character traits and local careers that students might not know about. She has also talked to retired art teacher Charlene Bergen about doing art with the students and has some ideas for field trips for education and motivation, she said.

General News on 09/13/2018

Print Headline: Longtime Educator Takes On Administrative Role

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