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Rollie Sullivan is Two Eagle River School’s new principal

by Lailani Upham

Two Eagle River School principal Rollie Sullivan said when he started teaching almost 40 years ago students came from two parent homes. “There has been a dramatic change of the years where most (students) come from single parent homes.” The missing component adds challenges for kids he says. But with his father-like discipline he hopes to guide students into society with success. (Lailani Upham photo) Two Eagle River School principal Rollie Sullivan said when he started teaching almost 40 years ago students came from two parent homes. “There has been a dramatic change of the years where most (students) come from single parent homes.” The missing component adds challenges for kids he says. But with his father-like discipline he hopes to guide students into society with success. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — Two Eagle River School has added a new team member to their family for the next two years: Mr. Rollie Sullivan, principal.

The School Improvement Grant, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, allowed TERS to hire two staff members to help reinforce support to the student body success. Sullivan’s position is for allocated for the next two years; Darlene Triplett, was hired on as Education Leader and Coach (see below).

Sullivan’s role so far this year has been spent on the role of the Dean of Students, he says. “Making sure discipline is in order and everything runs smooth. The role of disciplinarian is not as harsh as it sounds at TERS. According to Sullivan, the students are willing to apprehend it fairly quickly. “Our kids are good kids. I am pleased at how receptive they are to it (discipline).

Sullivan, who is going on his 39th year in education, says the today’s kids face new challenges that he never had when he was in high school, which can add difficulties in the transition to society after high school.

Sullivan says some of the steps of “smooth order” came from the board of directors’ direction. The idea from both staff and board is to help students “fit in” to the “real world” in whatever area they chose to go, whether it is higher education or straight to the work force.

“We want our students to realize these core values and the importance, to make them top priority.”

Sullivan says that the TERS team’s goal is to make sure each student that moves on after high school gains the tools need to be successful. “Society has standards and we want our kids to fit in and uphold those standards.”

Sullivan says he knows that college is not for all students. “Even though our wish is to see all students go on with their education – college isn’t for everyone, but we want all our students to be prepared for where they go next.”

One example of guidance is hat wearing in school. “Hats. Are they a major item? Not really, but the people who come to the school (BIE officials), it is. I don’t think (hat wearing) keeps them from getting an education, but because the board asked Dr. Bundy (TERS superintendent) to take care of it, we did.”

“They (students) are pretty good at taking care of it without a lot of fuss.”

The TERS staff came up with a model that will keep students focused on growth in character and tools. A “core value” emblem with the colors or a medicine wheel and a feather in the middle surrounded with the words: respect, responsibility, safety, and culture are hung in each classroom and around the school.

Sullivan says much of the strategies and ideas for discipline are formed from the Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) training that all staff completed. The next step is to form a committee of students and staff of all areas to have input in the model’s direction and goal.

“This is our home (TERS) and we want to treat the people and our home with respect,” Sullivan says. How is it done? Through taking ownership, he added. “It is in how we operate day to day.”

Sullivan’s approach as principal has been noticed by TERS staff.

Salish Language Teacher, Aggie Incashola says, “I really think he is a positive addition to our TERS family. He has already built a good rapport students.” Incashola adds, “He goes out of his way to try and know each student personally by name. I think that’s awesome. He is very supportive of staff. He is a ‘get things done’ kinda fella.”

* * *

Sullivan earned his undergraduate in Education at Northern Montana College in 1975. His major was physical education and minor English. He also played basketball for Northern while attending.

He taught English, physical education and coached boys basketball in Outlook from 1975 – 1980; and went to Frenchtown to teach and coach for one year, and where he met and married his wife. They have been married for 32 years.

From 1982 to 1985, he and his wife went to teach in Circle. He attended Montana State University in the summers of 1998 – 2000 to receive his M.A .in School Administration.

For 23 years Sullivan taught and administered at Sidney where he grew up.

From 2008 to this school year, Sullivan was the principal at Kamiah High School on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, where he and Dr. Bundy met and worked together.

Sullivan says his motivation has always been the kids. What makes life uplifting to Sullivan is being around the student, he says.

Chrissie Ewing, TERS paraprofessional said Sullivan is a great guy who works well with students and very dedicated. The other plus is he loves basketball and helps out with practice. Sullivan has a record as a coach who brought his team in small town Montana to state championship.

He and his wife, Sandy, have four children. Three of them went on into the teaching field, Ashley, Jace, and Ryan; Jordan, who is named MVP for the Lady Griz, is completing her degree in Marketing from the University of Montana.

* * *

“He is very visible in the hallways and all around the school which is another thing I really like about him. He visits classrooms unexpectedly also, so I, as a staff member, always have to try to be on my best game. I really appreciate the support he has shown me since he has started. He asks questions and wants to know about our ways... not because he’s being nosey but because he is wanting to know so he doesn’t find himself being disrespectful to our students, our people in general,” said Incashola.

Diana Taylor, TERS custodian says, “Mr. Sullivan is a great addition to TERS. The students seem to like him and he loves our children.”

“I hope they (students) always use the life skills we all provided for them here to be successful in life,” Sullivan stated.

Darlene Triplett does behind-the-scenes work in setting up professional development opportunities for teachers. She works closely with our BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) and CORE teams, in order to be sure that we are successful with the SIG grant. Darlene also offers Drivers Education to eligible students, so we know she is a brave lady,” says Rebekah Dalby, English teacher.

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