“I have a sainted husband who has lived by himself for seven years, so it's time I came home,” said McCullough, who has a condo in Sudbury, but travels back to Orillia to be with her husband on weekends.
Even though she's leaving Sudbury Catholic, McCullough said she's not ready to put up her feet and retire just yet.
“I've got some things in the works, so we'll see what happens,” she said, speaking to Northern Life after the school board's Oct. 15 meeting, where her resignation was announced.
“Hopefully by the time I leave here I'll be able to share more. I'm passionate about education. I'm hoping that I can continue in some capacity somewhere. So we'll see what happens.”
McCullough said she poured her “heart and soul” into her job, and is proud of what she and other board staff have been able to accomplish.
This includes building new schools and closing others, improving student achievement and being on the vanguard of introducing full-day kindergarten.
She's also had to face some challenging situations, including recently whittling down a multimillion dollar deficit.
“I wanted to stay and see our financial recovery plan through, and to make sure that the restructuring and the changes were done,” McCullough said.
Making the decision to leave her colleagues at Sudbury Catholic was “extremely difficult” and “extremely emotional,” she said.
According to a press release from the school board, before she joined Sudbury Catholic, McCullough worked for two other school systems in a variety of teaching and leadership capacities.
She graduated with a master of education from Brock University, and the Rotman School of Business with a certificate in strategic leadership.
Sudbury Catholic board chair Jody Cameron said it was “with regret” that the board accepted McCullough's resignation.
“She was a tremendous asset,” he said, adding that McCullough has overseen everything from school construction to boosting the board's EQAO test scores.
“Her leadership style fit into the school board, and we achieved many things,” Cameron said.
The board is now starting a recruiting process to replace McCullough.
Rather than immediately hiring a head-hunting firm – something which Cameron said could cost as much as $40,000 – the board will first use its own staff to see what kind of candidates could be out there.
There may be slim pickings in terms of candidates, though, Cameron said. Out of the province's 76 school boards, 35 directors of education have retired in the past year, he said.
Sudbury Catholic may end up promoting one of its own senior staff members to become director of education, Cameron said.