When Allix Sullivan was a newly minted Special Education teacher she was assigned to work in the Life Skills classroom at Momence High School. As the name suggests, this program teaches students all of the basic skills they will need to survive and thrive as adults in the world. That can include anything from doing laundry and cooking to shopping and dining out.
Without any academic training in this specialty, and still becoming an adult herself, Allix was hesitant and a bit nervous. But she pushed aside her fears and plunged into the work. She admits that it was a very tough year for her.Allix eloquently describes the epiphany that helped her come through it. She says that it took her time to learn how to navigate in that space. Eventually, though, she “learned from her students so that she could turn around and teach them.” That is such a beautiful sentiment and it speaks volumes about Allix’s respectful, student-centered approach to teaching
Now in her seventh year teaching at Momence, she was recently reassigned to co-teach math in the Special Education program. Given that math is one of her great interests, it’s a wonderful new opportunity for Allix. When she was younger she thought that she wanted to work in a math-related career. Then she realized that she really liked working with people, so she pursued teaching instead. This new role allows her to combine two of her interests in a single job. She loves her work, her students, and being a part of the team of dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals who educate youth with special needs across the district.
Allix says that her students are her greatest source of inspiration. Sometimes the job itself is really difficult, but she treasures the golden moments when a student has a breakthrough and she gets to witness and participate in their joy. She holds onto these nuggets and reminds herself of them to help her get through tougher days. Allix is currently studying for her administrator’s license, but she can’t really imagine not being with students in the classroom every day.
When she is not at school, Allix has a surprising passion. She is a “huge horror movie fan.” She and her boyfriend frequently attend horror movie conventions and have met many famous actors. Allix says she’s “really hardcore into it.”
When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Allix replies “Stick with the road towards whatever makes you happy. Stay true to yourself.” She believes that she has succeeded in doing this—and undoubtedly will continue to follow her true path into the future. In fact, when we asked her what she would wish for her students, she says: “That they find something they really love and find a way to do it.” That seems like an excellent life skill for all of us.
Stick with the road towards whatever makes you happy. Stay true to yourself.
By Lisa Cannon
Between Life Skills and Horror Films