Special ed teacher, school nurse set to retire

McCarthy, Porter have spent a combined 20 years at Cleveland

Molly House and Brooklyn Jimeno

It has been said that you don’t realize how important someone is until they are gone. The same can be said about teachers who leave. 

Special education teacher Marcy McCarthy has been a key member of the Cleveland staff since 2005. She, along with school nurse Sue Porter, will retire at the end of the school year. 

McCarthy’s students and colleagues will miss her bright smile and easy laughter and the way she makes your day better by just talking to her. While she’s looking forward to her retirement, McCarthy is sad about leaving Cleveland. 

“[I’m going to miss] interacting with kids. That is really fun,” she said said. 

Just like her students have learned and grown because of McCarthy, the special education department, where she has spent most of her time at Cleveland, has seen positive changes as well. 

“It has gone from deeply self-contained to vastly inclusive, and then it’s flowed into really thinking through inclusion versus a self-contained educational environment,” McCarthy said. 

There’s no doubt that Cleveland has seen many changes over the years, and in her 14 years at the school, McCarthy has been here to witness them all. 

“I have really enjoyed seeing the changes that have happened at Cleveland, they’ve been huge changes. Just the really positive flow of everything,” McCarthy said. 

Before getting the job as a teacher at Cleveland, McCarthy spent 15 years in a private therapy business. She would travel all over helping people with sensory integration problems, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and autism. 

“The time in private therapy allowed me to see people from all different religions and cultures,” McCarthy said. “I got to know a broad scope of people.” 

The skills McCarthy learned in her business has helped her become more inclined to the needs of her students and a better teacher. But she isn’t the only one bringing knowledge into her classroom. 

“I learn things every day from my students,” McCarthy said. “I learn their interests, so I try to teach to their interests. I learned that they appreciate being challenged.”

Porter has tended to students’ aches and pains as Cleveland’s school nurse for the last six years. She is retiring after 35 years of nursing.

“I worked as a library aid for a bunch of years until I got my nursing degree then I worked in a pediatric emergency room for five years,” she said.  

Porter later spent 12 years working in an adolescent clinic in Baltimore City. She also worked another 12 years in developing countries training healthcare providers. She came to Seattle because her grandchildren are here. 

“It’s all been great,” she said.

Porter first became a nurse because she was inspired by her daughter’s pediatrician.

“She was patient with me as a new mom and took her time to answer my questions and talk to me about her growth and development,” Porter said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”

When asked what was her favorite thing about nursing, Porter said she enjoyed being able to help identify the students who have physical or emotional problems and help them find the support they need to be successful in school.

Porter came to CHS in 2013. At the time, her experience around the school was limited due to the constant need for her to be in her office. But with the support from other staff members and the love she received from students, she couldn’t help but feel at home. 

“I like the overall tone of the school,” she said.

Although she won’t be a part of the Cleveland community, Porter will always have a soft spot for the Eagles.

“It’s been wonderful here at CHS,” she said. “Thank you to everyone – students and staff – for making this a special ending to what has been a wonderful career.” 

Both McCarthy and Porter said they will miss the students, but they are both looking forward to devoting time to other interests. McCarthy trains dogs and is a fiber artist, someone who spins and knits colorful creations. She is currently working on an afghan. 

“I have a lot of interests outside of school,” McCarthy said. “I am a bigger person than just an educator.” 

Retirement not only holds more time for hobbies, but big changes for McCarthy. She is moving with her daughter’s family to Spokane, where they purchased a big house. She plans to be busy with lots of remodeling projects. A perk of living with her daughter’s family is living with her son-in-law, who is good at a very important thing, according to McCarthy. 

 “My son-in-law is a fabulous cook, so I never have to cook again.”