Williamson County Schools announced today the death of longtime teacher and administrator Paula Pulliam.
Pulliam, who was the principal at Spring Station Middle, died after a "long, courageous battle with cancer," WCS said.
"While she kept her battle with this disease as private as possible, she was public in showing her passion for her students, her staff, her school, her district and for public education," an email from the district reads. "She was truly a cheerleader for all of those and for her beloved University of Kentucky where she graduated in 1979 with a degree in Elementary Education."
Pulliam taught in the Metro Nashville Public Schools from 1986-1990 where she was named the 1989 Teacher of the Year by the Nashville Middle School Association.
She taught in Shelby County, Kentucky, from 1990-93 before joining Williamson County Schools as a teacher at Grassland Middle in 1993. She served as the assistant principal of Grassland Middle beginning with the 1996-97 school year before being named principal of the school for the 1999-2000 school year. She was selected to open Heritage Middle School, which opened in January 2001, and then to open Spring Station Middle in 2010.
A Celebration of Life through Light will be held to honor Pulliam on Friday, Oct. 30, in the Summit High football parking lot. This candlelight vigil will be held in lieu of visitation with the family.
Attendees should arrive beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Celebration of Life through Light will begin at 6 p.m.
Attendees can park at the following parking lots: Summit High gym lot, Summit High front lot, and all Spring Station parking lots.
Candles may be picked up at the four corners of the parking lot.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Humane Society.
Remembrances from friends and colleagues
“In the 15 years that I’ve known Paula, she always put others ahead of herself. She leaves behind a legacy in WCS as she was a mentor to so many of our administrators and teachers. It's a unique honor for a principal to be chosen to open a brand-new school. In Paula's case, this happened not once, but twice, which speaks to her incredible ability as an administrator and a leader of others. Above all else, Paula's love for her students was immeasurable."
-Jason Golden, WCS Superintendent
"Paula was a dedicated leader who always put others before herself. She loved her staff and students fiercely. She was my mentor for 16 years and a mentor to so many others across the county and beyond. Her legacy will live on at Spring Station Middle School."
-Amy Seago, Spring Station Middle Assistant Principal
"For her integrity and resolve to always do the right thing, Paula will always have my greatest respect and admiration."
-Chris Whitefield, Spring Station Middle Assistant Principal
"Paula was the hardest working principal that I have ever known. She had a relentless passion for educating students, developing great teachers, and growing leaders. She was not only a tremendous mentor but also a great friend."
-Dr. Shane Pantall, Franklin High Principal
"Paula was such a mentor to me as a new principal in WCS. She took time to check on me and give me advice, and her toughness has taught me so much. She showed me the most important part of being an administrator is to care about your students and your staff. I appreciate all she has done for the students in WCS who she has impacted."
-Sarah Lamb, Summit High Principal
"As a new principal, Paula was always there to support me and help me however she could. She was strong yet gentle at the same time. She helped me to grow into my new role and yet she was never too proud to ask me for advice. I am very lucky to not only have her as mentor over the last decade but to also count her as a friend. I will miss her greatly."
-Dr. Eric Lifsey, Page Middle Principal
"Paula Pulliam’s dedication to the Williamson County School District was quite impressive, and her roots ran deep in the communities she served over the years. Mrs. Pulliam’s legacy will always be her willingness to invest in others. She mentored many of her peers and colleagues over the years and had always been the first to celebrate their successes. Throughout her time in education, she continued to be fully committed to always putting her students first when making decisions for her school, and this is evidenced through the faculty and staff of SSMS each day. Paula Pulliam created a learning environment where students and staff have high expectations for each other but care about each other fiercely. She has always and will always continue to instill Mustang Pride."
-Heather Hayes, WCS Executive Director of Middle Schools
"Whether she hired you, led your school, served on a committee with you, or simply sat with you at a meeting, Paula was present in your life with purposeful impact. She leaned into conversations with a genuine interest and care to make each encounter a moment that mattered for her and you. Her advice came from not only years of successful practice, but it also came from a place of compassion and interest to see you succeed.
Though a humble human being who would much rather cast the spotlight on her students and staff while avoiding praise at all costs herself, her grit, unmatched work ethic, and brisk pace allowed her actions to speak and speak loudly. She was the leader on the other end of the line when you were at a loss for next steps. She was the friend who remembered when you didn’t think anyone knew. Most importantly, she was the leader who always kept students and their best interest at the forefront of every conversation and decision! She loved nothing more than watching her students succeed and perform. They served as her motivation when days were tough, and she never stopped fighting for her students."
-Dr. Leigh Webb, WCS Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools