Briana Pulliam, Literacy Coach & Interventionist at Hancock County Schools, was born and raised in Lewisport. “My childhood was just the best because we stayed out until dark, played outside, rode bicycles and played basketball at the boat dock,” she said. “I had so many friends that grew up with me. It was the most wonderful experience. Where I grew up – I’m extremely blessed.”
She attended Lewisport Elementary and said that’s when she fell in love with school. “Some of the teachers that I had there meant so much to me and the principal (Edgar Payne). We were very blessed with the best,” she said.
Briana played girls’ softball at HCHS and they won the Championship in 1986. She was the pitcher and June Cline & Lisa Jarboe, she said were “fabulous” coaches.
She graduated HCHS in 1988 and earned her Associate Degree at Owensboro Community College. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at Western Kentucky University (WKU) and started her first teaching job in 1995 at Hawesville Elementary Preschool and then taught Kindergarten for 7 years. She transferred to South Hancock (SHES) and taught K-1 and 2nd Grade for a number of years.
She is in her 28th year of teaching this year. She earned her Master’s in Elementary Education at WKU and also received her training in Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE)/Orton- Gillingham, a program for dyslexic students. “Other people around the state are having to pay for tutors for that because it’s very specialized,” Briana said. “Our superintendent (Robby Asberry) has made sure that every teacher at SHES was trained in it. It’s re-ignited my passion for teaching, especially reading.”
She attended LETRS Training, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, and also just completed training to become a LETRS Facilitator in Hancock County. “I’m pumped about that, excited and thankful for the opportunity,” she said, “and what it’s going to mean for the difference in HC Schools in reading.”
Briana says Jennifer Howe, Principal at SHES, encouraged her to step into this new role. Another of her principals that was also a “huge encourager” to her and all of the teachers at SHES, she said was Micheal Swihart. “And also, Barbara Spindell,” she said. “She is the one who hired me as an Instructional Assistant when I was 19-years-old. She believed in me and let me transfer back to SHES as a teacher.”
Dr. Ann Evans, who recently passed, was very important to Briana. “She hired me right off the bat after college. She always was supportive and believed in her teachers. Several of us from SHES went to visit Ann. She knew us, it was a great visit and we got to tell her we loved her and thanked her for everything she put into Hancock County Schools and into us.”
Briana looked up to her parents, the late Danny & Linda Jones, as well. “My Daddy was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known and one thing I got from my mother, in particular, was her love of reading. She went to the library all the time and took me when I was little and read to me all the time.” Her siblings are Tracey Harpe and the late Jerry Jones.
“All my life I feel like God’s been leading me in everything that I do and I hope I continue to let Him lead,” she said. “Stepping out of the regular classroom this year and into this role – it’s not easy, it was actually pretty hard and I felt like God was leading me to do it. I try to follow what He tells me to do. I don’t do a good job of it always but I try. I’m doing Reading Interventions here at SHES and I’m also part Literacy Coach for the district, so I travel to NHES some and get to work with the K-1 teachers there & SHES. I really love that. I taught with some of those ladies at Hawesville Elementary and am friends with them. So, it’s a great opportunity for me to learn and grow from them as well.”
She teaches reading through fun multi-sensory activities like writing letters with their fingers in the sand. “Or, we finger-tap words and pound syllables,” she said, “so that the students get engaged the entire time that we’re doing the lesson. They really love it.”
One of her favorite hobbies is reading. “I read either spiritual books – growing as a Christian, or things about reading and how to teach kids how to read. I also absolutely love working in my flowers in the summertime at my house. And, of course, being with my grandkids. Right now, Tate, Dani and Paisley play ball, so I love watching them play ball as well.”
She and her high school sweetheart, Eric Pulliam, met at the Lewisport Skating Rink. “As small as Hancock County is,” she said, “you would think that I would have known him, but I did not. I literally met him there and we’ve been together ever since. He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the opportunity of getting to know and love.”
They are blessed with 2 adult children: Fahlin & Austin. Fahlin is the Guidance Counselor at SHES and her husband, Trey Anderson, is HCMS Assistant Principal. Austin works at Aleris and his wife, Erica, has her degree in early childhood education and currently is a stay-at-home mom while also running her own cookie-baking company from home – Sweet Rue Cookies, which is named after Eric’s grandmother, Ruby Pulliam, or “Granny Rue.”
Fahlin & Trey have blessed Briana & Eric with 2 grandchildren: Tate & Audrey Danielle “Dani” (after Briana’s father, Danny, and Eric’s maternal grandmother, Audrey Swihart). Austin & Erica have also blessed them with 2 grandchildren: Paisley Rue (after “Granny Rue”) & Boone, plus one more on the way in January and they’ve chosen the name Bo. “We’re very excited about that,” Briana said.
Eric is a Maintenance Mechanic at Domtar and when he & Briana aren’t working they love to travel. “We’ve taken several trips Out West and we really love it. It is absolutely gorgeous. It’s one of our favorite places now. We just got to go to Jamaica. That was my first time out of the country. We like to travel and see new things. It’s a good time.”
Briana teaches the Preschool Class on Sunday mornings at their church, Blackford Baptist. “When I go to church on Sundays and the kids that I’ve had in kindergarten and first grade who I taught to read are reading Bible verses – that’s one of the coolest things that I get to see.”
By Jennifer Wimmer