Teacher leaves job by the court to work in the trenches
Michael Sullivan has no regrets about leaving his job with the Dallas Mavericks to teach journalism at De Soto High School. In fact he has decided to build a home with his wife in the district.
"It was just a perfect situation," Sullivan said.
Sullivan moved back to northeastern Kansas Memorial Day weekend after spending several years in Dallas, Texas, working media relations for the Dallas Mavericks.
Sullivan is a 1995 Kansas University graduate with a bachelor of science in journalism, where he worked in the sports information department for the university. His experience at KU earned him an internship with the Mavericks that later turned into a job.
His was not just another office job. Sullivan had the opportunity to travel with the team on occasion, meet basketball greats such as Michael Jordan, attend all home games seated right behind the players and take a trip to Cancun.
Sullivan recalled a time when his uncle called him after seeing him on ESPN's Sports Center laughing hysterically while then Phoenix Suns' coach Danny Ainge took his seat after receiving two technical fouls. Sullivan realized he had been joking with a colleague at the same moment the camera was pointed at the coach seated in front of him, and ESPN commentators mistakenly thought Sullivan was laughing at Ainge.
His busy life with the Mavericks was both a curse and a blessing. He met many famous people, traveled "beyond first class" and got more journalism experience than most in the field can dream of. But he also found himself missing out on some of the more important moments of life.
"I had to leave my wife for days at a time every week and I missed her," Sullivan said.
At the beginning of January his wife had to spend her birthday alone because of Sullivan's work schedule, and he said that's when he decided it was time to change professions.
"I was with a guy on the radio and I had to tell my wife happy birthday over the air," he said. "And he had to tell his son who was turning 5-years-old happy birthday and I just decided I didn't want to be away from my children like that when we decided to have a family," he said.
Although he and his wife only have a cat and a dog right now, they are glad they made the move back to the area to make their home.
Sullivan went to Southwest Missouri State, Springfield, Mo. to continue his education. He said he had always thought about being a teacher and decided to attend a teacher placement day at SMSU.
"I just went and found out what it would take to become a teacher," he said.
He then pursued and received his teaching certification in social studies and journalism at SMSU.
" I took a big chance and it all worked out," Sullivan said.
At De Soto High School he teaches broadcast and print journalism, yearbook and he also coaches the women's tennis team and will be an assistant coach for the men's tennis team.
"I bring a professional aspect in there, but they teach me too," he said. "I've done a lot of publication but not a yearbook."
Sullivan said he looks forward to developing the journalism department at the school, and eventually hopes to be able to broadcast the school news in the area.
"It is a growing process and will change constantly," Sullivan said.