Editor’s Note: Since this story ran, the school has announced Sutton is battling cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with his medical bills. Click here if you’d like to contribute.


NEWPORT, N.C. (WNCT) – The students and staff at Newport Elementary School are wishing a loved one farewell for the time being.

This entire week is all dedicated to Dean Sutton’s retirement, from wishing him a happy birthday, supporting his favorite sports teams and sharing some sweet treats while thanking him for his time at the school.

“It’s gonna be tough to leave the kids but I know, I’m gonna make it through,” he said.

Sutton has worked at the school for almost 30 years. His last day is this Friday.

“When I took the job, I wanted to participate in classroom activity, sports activity, you know, just walk around in a classroom to see how they’re doing because that uplifts the kids, too, because they’re looking for that love, someone to, you know, share and concern about,” said Sutton.

He’s walked the halls with children who now have become parents to some of the current students.

“Being connected with kids for years after years and seeing them leave here and they come back, it’s just been wonderful,” he said.

Teachers said while he maintained the building’s upkeep, he meant so much more to the school. 

“He would join our kids out at recess and shoot hoops. He was playing basketball with the kids, he visited classrooms and greeted the children. He knows almost every single student by name,” said Assistant Principal Laura Parish.

“He’s going to be missed by everyone that walks through those doors,” added fourth-grade teacher Ashley Lawrence.

Many students have given him cards this week and said they’ll miss playing their favorite radio game with him. 

“I’m gonna miss him stopping in our classroom because he’s always stopped and like there’s gonna be no one out there anymore,” said third grader Sophie Sawyer.

Sutton said for his retirement, he hopes to spend more time with his grandkids and wife, but people will still see him around town.