As Dee Sutton reflects on her 21 years with the Taylor public schools, her happiest memories are of working directly with students and helping them succeed. As an instructional assistant working with special needs students at Taylor High School, Sutton has enjoyed all of her assignments, including classroom instruction, job skills training and coaching Special Olympics.
“There’s a reason I get up every morning, and the reason that I get up is for these kids,” Sutton said. “We are here for the kids. That’s why I get up in the morning and pray that I will help provide another good day for these children.”
Sutton’s first assignment was to assist a student needing extra support. After that, she began working in a resource classroom providing academic support for multiple students. She was also needed for secretarial duties in the special education department, a position she held for about eight years. But when a position opened up in life skills, she followed her heart back to the classroom.
“I wanted a challenge, I wanted to do something good,” Sutton said. “So, I applied for the life skills position. I was back working with kids and I loved it.”
Sutton’s next opportunity came when she was asked to help start the 18+ class, a program serving special needs students after graduation.
“It was exciting, and we were placed at the old middle school annex,” Sutton recalled. “My role there was job coach, teaching students how to live on their own. We taught them how to cook, how to wash clothes, how to keep a house, how to do banking and how to get a job. We were helping the students to be able to live on their own after they leave the program, and a lot of them had paying jobs before they left.”
Coaching special olympics is also a favorite career highlight that Sutton remembers with a smile.
“Being a special olympics coach is so rewarding,” Sutton said. “To see the kids participate in track and field, bowling, basketball and watching them place and get a medal. The looks on their faces, that’s the highest reward.”
Sutton also traveled to Huston-Tillotson University in Austin with Upward Bound, a group of juniors and seniors attending college classes for credit.
“We went every Wednesday night,” Sutton said. “They would take a college course and a lot of them ended up going to Huston-Tillotson and getting their degrees.”
The part of her job that Sutton enjoys the most is when students successfully complete the program.
“Seeing our students graduate and get their diploma, that’s the most rewarding thing,” Sutton said. “We just had one graduate from A&M, and one went to ACC welding through a scholarship we raised with Say Cheese restaurant. The best part is seeing them succeed.”
Now that she is retiring, Sutton has plans to relax, read and travel.
“I like to read and I go a lot to the public library,” Sutton said. “I love Texas history and I think I’ve read every book the Taylor Public Library has. I also like to take Amtrak trips, getting on in Taylor and either going west or to Chicago. For my next trip I want to visit a friend of mine in Portland, Oregon, my brother in Chicago and then to Pittsburg to see my sister.”
Sutton also plans to spend more time with her grandchildren.
“I’m missing out on having lunch with them at school, and going to their recitals,” Sutton said. “It will pass by fast and I don’t want to miss out.”
Sutton said she might even come back as a substitute teacher in the future and continue working at the job she loves.
“I have worked with some great teachers,” Sutton said. “I have enjoyed my time with Taylor ISD.”