After Surgery, Principal Returns to 'Beye in Bloom’

Eight weeks after undergoing brain surgery, Principal Cheryl Sullivan returned to Beye Elementary School on Monday to find a garden blooming inside the walls of her school. 

The first flowers were created by Beye administrative assistants Anna Harlan and Linda Cooper, alongside art teacher Kristen Sundquist, just before Sullivan began her leave. 

In February, Sullivan had undergone some tests due to symptoms she’d been having and discovered that there was a mass on the lining of her brain. Though doctors told her the tumor was likely benign, they needed to remove it to alleviate her symptoms. 

Harlan, Cooper and Sundquist sprung into action, creating a display of paper flowers outside the lunch room and in other common spaces throughout the school. The words “Sullivan Strong” were printed in the center of each flower. 

“Seeing the flowers on my last day before the leave was so inspirational,” Sullivan said.

Fast forward two months and Sullivan is back and fully recovered. To welcome her back, Beye PTO members Casey and Daniel Goldberg spearheaded an effort to expand the “Sullivan Strong” garden by asking every student and staff member to decorate a flower petal for Sullivan. The petals were brightly-colored, hand-drawn and covered in sketches of hearts, rainbows, dolphins and sunshine. Students wrote words of encouragement and healing too.

I hope you come back soon, we all miss your kindness.
Do your best. You rock. And you are strong!
I have a new joke for you.
You are loved.

Each class flower was printed in a memory book that the school presented to Sullivan at a surprise all-school assembly the morning she returned. Staff members also wore bandanas and scarves in solidarity with Sullivan, including retired District 97 principal Sheila Carter, who served as interim principal of Beye during Sullivan's leave.

"Monday was like the first day of school all over again and to my surprise, the love and support continued.” Sullivan said. “Starting the day in a surprise assembly with the whole school and receiving this wonderful book will be something I will never forget.”