Aug 05 2016

Chris Sullivan, the new director of Costa Verde International School, and his family have traveled to Sayulita on multiple occasions the past five years to visit extended family. However, on July 4th of this year, Chris, his wife, Meghan, their two sons (Ogden, 5 and Eller, 18 months), and their dog, Judy, the Weimaraner, left Tacoma, Washington to make a life in Sayulita. Chris tells El Sayulero about his experience in education, why he chose to accept the director position at CVIS, his leadership and educational philosophy, and much more.

You have a very strong background in education with 17 years experience. Will you tell me about that?

My background in education started right after college when I worked at Head Start, a program for low-income children in preschool. Since then I worked many years in early childhood education, Outdoor Education, taught elementary English in Sonora, Mexico, and I’ve taught English as a second language. I’ve taught every grade level Kindergarten through 6th- I’ve also taught college-level education courses for Eastern Oregon University. Four years ago I transitioned from teaching to administration and have since been a principal.

Were you always interested in teaching? What inspired you to become a teacher?

Yes, I’ve always been interested in teaching and wanted to work with kids. Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the teachers who would make you want to be there and made the classes interesting. Teaching never felt like a choice I made. It’s just something I’ve always done and is the only thing I’ve ever done. Even throughout college, I was an English and writing tutor.

What inspired you to make the transition from teaching to school principal / director four years ago?

I spent a number of years teaching and administration was another area of education. I wanted to try something new and learn how decisions were made. I thought I could really make a positive change.

Will you share your leadership and educational philosophy?

My educational philosophy is pretty simple – there’s always a way for every kid. Each kid is like a puzzle. An educator’s job is to figure out what works for every single student. As far as my administrative philosophy: let’s work together – we’re all here for the kids.

What is it about Sayulita that made you want to move here?

Sayulita seems like a great place to raise kids. I want my kids to be able to be outside and be in a family friendly place. I want them to be around a variety of people from different cultures and CVIS really has that. And it’s sunny in Sayulita most of the year – I’m from the Pacific Northwest where it rains a lot. I also like the opportunities for the school – to help create better systems and programs. It seems there are fewer roadblocks to making great things happen for kids.

How does CVIS in Sayulita differ from the other schools you’ve worked at?  

I’ve only worked at high poverty schools – at least 70% of the students living in poverty. The schools have been large, with approximately 600 kids and there have been more staff. I find CVIS to be more family friendly and there is a more intimate approach to school.

What was it about CVIS that drew you to the director position?

I think it’s a great place for kids. In the past, when I’ve been in Sayulita and the school, I’ve noticed how great the kids are here. It’s the kind of place I want my kids to be, and I’m excited for my son, Ogden, to be a student at CVIS this year.

Are there any changes you plan to implement at CVIS and if so, will you share your plans?

Any changes I make I like to do collectively. I’m methodical and thoughtful about decisions and make them with the people on the front lines working with the kids. I won’t just dive into this year making new changes. I will get input from parents, kids, and teachers before making any changes. In the end, any changes will be in the best interest of the kids and families.