Pasadena community salutes Nelda R. Sullivan at school dedication

Pasadena community salutes Nelda R. Sullivan at school dedication
Posted on 12/06/2016
Sullivan Dedication Honors Longtime Board Member

Nelda R. Sullivan DedicationPasadena ISD Board President Nelda R. Sullivan, joined by community members throughout the Pasadena area, cut the red ribbon during the school dedication.

 Nelda R. Sullivan DedicationSullivan and her great-grandson celebrate the momentous occasion.

Story/Photos by
Reesha Brown
PISD Communications 

As a military spouse, Nelda Sullivan’s patriotic roots run deep.

On Dec. 1, hundreds of students, staff and community members gathered to pay tribute to the long-standing board member and her late husband Staff Sgt. Charles Sullivan during a patriotic dedication of one of the district’s newest middle schools, named in her honor.

“It is impossible to express to each and every one of you how humbled and grateful I am to have this beautiful school named after me, and to have you here to join in the celebration makes it even more special,” Sullivan said.

“My husband, who served during the Korean War, would have truly enjoyed this evening.”

The dedication welcomed nearly 500 guests, including her children, all of whom are graduates of Pasadena ISD, Johnnie W. Sullivan, Charlotte Sullivan Dickerman and David Sullivan. Also present were her four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

The ceremony included performances by the new school’s orchestra and choir, a presentation of colors by the Dobie, Pasadena, Rayburn, and South Houston High JROTCs, followed by warm sentiments from Superintendent of Schools Dr. DeeAnn Powell, Nelda R. Sullivan Principal Kelly Cook-Costley, Board of Trustee Fred Roberts and Sagemont Church Associate Pastor Emory Gadd.

“On behalf of the entire school district, I express our appreciation to the Sullivan Family,” Dr. Powell said. “We are proud to have a school named for Mrs. Sullivan, a wonderful lady who spent her entire career in the Pasadena area devoted to supporting the community, including 24 years on the School Board.”

Sullivan was presented several proclamations: on behalf of Congressman Gene Green’s Office, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman and Senator Sylvia Garcia. The City of Pasadena also presented a proclamation, declaring December 1, 2016 Nelda Sullivan Day.

“Our city and the schools cannot find a finer lady than her,” said Joe Reyna, who presented the proclamation on behalf of Congressman Gene Green. “Nelda R. Sullivan has dedicated her life to the schools here.”

Mike Cade, who presented the proclamation on behalf of Commissioner Jack Morman, echoed these sentiments.

We all owe you a debt of gratitude,” Cade said.

Presenting on behalf of Silvia Garcia’s Office was Derek Darnell, who read from the proclamation “…For helping to make the Pasadena Independent School District the first-class district it is today and for her loyal community service, we extend best wishes in all her future endeavors.”

Sullivan retired as vice president and branch manager of a local bank after 40 years of service. During that time, she was fortunate to watch Pasadena grow literally from the ground up as the bank made construction loans for houses built in the Fairmont area.

She and her husband Charles were loyal supporters of Pasadena schools, from serving on the Red Bluff Elementary PTA through her time as a member of the board.

Born outside of Bastrop County, Sullivan’s drive to be successful along with a supportive family, helped her come from a “house with no electricity,” to a school named in her honor.

“I encourage you kids, every time you walk these halls, I want you to know she is a special person,” Fred Roberts, board member said.  

Roberts, a long-time colleague and friend of the Sullivan family, shared his fondest memories of Charles and Nelda as he presented her life story.

“We would go to dinner and he would tell me stories. She would sit there and giggle, so I would giggle and laugh too,” he joked. “I think if Charlie were here, he would say, ‘Well done.’ He loves you more than anything else.”

Also present at the event was former Pasadena ISD school superintendent Dr. Rick Schneider; the construction and design staff from SBWV; general contractors from Collier and members of the future facilities committee, who recommended the addition of the campus to the district during the 2011 bond election.

“I just want to say how proud we are of this campus and excited we are about the future of Sullivan Middle School under the direction of Kelly Cook Costley as the principal,” Dr. Powell said.

The nearly 125,000 square-foot facility opened its doors to over 650 students in the fall of 2016 and accommodates students from L.F. Smith, South Shaver and Williams Elementary Schools.

Nelda Sullivan Middle School students and staff have created a culture of learning based on three values: to engage, educate and empower, in hopes that students will leave a mark on their community like the school’s namesake.

“Her life’s work inspires us all, and we can all say with great certainty that she and her family are now a part of each and every one of us for all time,” Kelly Cook-Costley, Sullivan principal said.

For the photo album from the Nelda R. Sullivan dedication, please click on the Facebook link.