The long-time principal at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in south Buffalo recently announced his retirement. Thomas Sullivan has been with the school for 26-years, serving 22-of those as principal. WBFO’s Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley met with Sullivan about the strengths of the all-boys, Catholic high school.
There are 240-students enrolled at Timon-St. Jude. Sullivan said he believes this is a good time for him to hand off the school to a new leader, but he has already mapped a path of accomplishments that have enhanced the school’s curriculum for students in introducing bioinformatics, Mandarin Chinese, laptop technology and STEM learning.
"What sustains the school the most?", asked Buckley. "I think our alumni base is very, very strong. We have over 8,000 alums, who live all over the world and they continue to very vital and critical component to our sustainability,” replied Sullivan.
Sullivan said he believes sustainability, enrollment finance and programming will be the biggest challenges for the next leader of school.
The school has some well-known alumni including former Congressman and Erie Community College President Jack Quinn, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino and Justice Gerald Whalen named to head the State Supreme Court Appellate Division. But it's no longer just a neighborhood school. About 65 to 70-percent of the students come from the city of Buffalo, but the school is now drawing students from about 17 to 18 different school districts.
"Our students of color have grown,” said Sullivan. "When I first started in ’94 there were probably about two-percent of our students here were students of color, now we are at 20-percent."
Timon has a 100-percent graduation rate. Sullivan explained that students at the school struggle most with 'striving to be the best student they can be'.
“Instilling in them that importance of learning, getting them to do their homework," said Sullivan. “It’s important to instill in them how critical it is to be the best student they can be."
As Sullivan gets ready to exit as principal at the end of the school year, he reflected on his work for WBFO.
“Is to make a difference in people’s lives – that’s the most important thing, if we’ve done that, then we’ve done what God has asked us to do,” replied Sullivan.