Legislative tributes salute Dr. Bunting’s career, impact in Indian River district


GEORGETOWN –  For more than a decade, Dr. Susan Bunting was on stage as Indian River School District’s top administrator.

Nearly five months after she retired as district superintendent to become secretary of Delaware’s Department of Education, Dr. Bunting was on stage as a special honoree at the June 19 IRSD board of education meeting.

State Senate and House of Representatives tributes punctuated the presentation saluting Dr. Bunting for her 39 years of employment with the Indian River district and her positive impact on scores of students, staff, families and the school district community.

“Dr. Bunting has touched and enriched numerous lives along the way. Her positive and worthy impact is beyond measure,” said 38th District Rep. Ron Gray, pinch-hitting in the tribute presentations for Sen. Gerald Hocker and Sen. Brian Pettyjohn who could not attend.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King, who represents the 37th District, presented the tribute from the House, whose legislative members recognized this “outstanding individual and applaud her for her many years of dedicated service to educational field.”

Dr. Susan Bunting was honored at the June 19 Indian River School District board of education meeting for her 39 years of employment with the district, including superintendent from 2006 into January 2017. Tributes were presented from the Delaware’s House of Representatives and Senate. From left: Rep. Ron Gray (who presented the Senate tribute), Rep. Ruth Briggs King (House tribute), IRSD school board vice president Rodney Layfield, Dr. Bunting, IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele and Rep. Rich Collins.

Dr. Bunting came to the IRSD nearly four decades ago as a third-grade elementary teacher from Maryland.

“I have been blessed to be engaged in education for nearly four decades. And most of them have been right here in the Indian River School District,” said Dr. Bunting. “I want to share how grateful I am that almost 40 years ago this board took a chance on a young, out-of-state teacher – I was coming from Montgomery County, Maryland – and allowed her to begin at Selbyville Middle School as a language arts teacher.”

In late January, Dr. Bunting was confirmed by the state senate as Gov. John Carney’s cabinet appointee to lead the state department of education.

“I just want to say very quickly, it is wonderful having a good Sussex Countian in such an important position,” said Rep. Rich Collins, the 41st District representative. “That has not been the case … and I think it’s going to make a huge difference in the next few years.”

Rep. Gray connected the stormy weather thundering outside with Dr. Bunting’s tenure, the last 11 years as superintendent.

‘I think it’s fitting that we have a storm hitting us at the same time we are giving this award to Dr. Bunting, because that’s how she hit the Indian River School District; like a storm,” said Rep. Gray.

Raised in Selbyville, Dr. Bunting’s career in the IRSD began at Selbyville Middle School, which is now the district’s central office base. She then was a teacher in “gifted” education for about 12 years before moving into central office in 1991. She was Supervisor of Elementary Instruction for five years and Director of K-12 Instruction for 10 years prior to succeeding Lois Hobbs as superintendent of one the largest public school districts in Delaware.

Superintendent Mark Steele, who succeeded Dr. Bunting as the top administrator, spoke of Dr. Bunting’s passion for education and compassion for others.

“Beyond being the leader; being a human being … if you’re sick or somebody in your family is sick, you always got a call from Susan. Or she may show up with some food. She would always check on you to make sure everything is right,” said Mr. Steele. “If you just had a bad day, she’d come in the office and sit down … and she always had time to listen. That’s not commonplace in today’s world, particularly somebody at the superintendent’s level.”

“It has been a grand career here. I have really appreciated the opportunity to work with the students and the staff, and through all of those years my passion for trying to make a difference in the lives of students, staff and my administrators has never waned,” said Dr. Bunting, who shared words of President Abraham Lincoln. “You know that I love Lincoln … and Lincoln has said on the subject of education it’s the most important thing that we as a people can be engaged in.”

“Thank you for allowing me to contribute to what Indian River is now, and that’s a model of excellence,” said Dr. Bunting.

“I was left to fill her shoes and those were awful big shoes to fill. And I’m not sure I’m going to get there,” said Mr. Steele. “But I’ll say this: As a person and a superintendent, we could not have had a finer human being on the face of this earth.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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