Terry Sullivan

Terry Sullivan

Sullivan to retire; search begins for new school-district head

impending retirement of Terry Sullivan, longtime superintendent of the Kamloops-Thompson school district

By Dale Bass

Kamloops This Week

Letters were sent out to various people on Tuesday, Dec. 17, advising them of the impending retirement of Terry Sullivan, longtime superintendent of the Kamloops-Thompson school district.

Board of education chairman Denise Harper said the goal is to involve the community in fine-tuning the job description she expects will go across the country sometime in late January.

Thompson Rivers University, the City of Kamloops, unions representing the board staff, the District Parent Advisory Council — all will be sent a description of what the region is like, what it can offer and the attributes being sought for the person who will become just the third superintendent for the school district.

Harper said trustees started working on the job posting months ago, when Sullivan privately told them of his plans to retire on July 31, 2014.

He plans to stay in Kamloops and perhaps do some teaching, the career he began 40 years ago.

Sullivan, 67, was found during a similar national search in 1999,  moving to Kamloops from Nova Scotia.

Harper said that job search, which trustees conducted in a process she described as exhausting and exhaustive, led to more than 60 applications.

It was eventually pared down to a shortlist, but Sullivan was seen as “a perfect fit from the beginning,” according to Harper.

This time, the board is working with Go Futures Human Resources Inc., an organization run by former educator Ron Pound. Harper said it has a good understanding of the public-education system and a good track record.

Harper expects there will also be internal candidates and she would like to be able to announce the successful candidate by the end of March.

“I’m excited to see what’s out there,” she said of the process, noting the district, created through an amalgamation in 1996, named Terry Grieve as its first superintendent.

She praised Sullivan, calling him “one of Canada’s top education leaders,” a sentiment echoed by John Hall, president of CUPE Local 3500, which represents unionized non-teaching staff.

“I’ve been involved [in education] a long time both here and provincially and I say it everywhere,” Hall said.

“This is the best school district in the province and Dr. Sullivan’s leadership is the reason.”

Hall said even when he has been dealing with contentious issues, Sullivan “has always been respectful to CUPE and 100 per cent fair. These are massive shoes to fill.”

Trustee Megan Wade agreed.

“I will never say we are replacing Dr. Sullivan,” she said, “because that would be impossible. I just say we are looking for our next leader.”

Wade said Sullivan has “served the district well” and led it to the forefront of education in B.C.