Saying the word “honor” doesn’t sufficiently describe how Debbie Suffrin felt by being named the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish’s 2018 Citizen of the Year, she simply added, “This is the top.”
Suffrin received the recognition as an active member of the St. Charles Parish community for nearly 30 years.
“I just think it’s the most unique thing I’ve ever won in my life,” she said. “I love this whole community and for these people to give me this honor, it just fills my heart.”
She was a public school teacher for 37 years, including 21 of those years at Destrehan High School. A graduate of Nicholls State University, Suffrin has a bachelor’s of science degree, as well as Master’s degree in curriculum.
“I absolutely love teaching,” she said. “My whole life is surrounded by kids.”
One of her fondest recollections as a teacher came nearly 20 years ago, when a student told her how much her teaching meant to her.
When she retired seven years ago, Suffrin didn’t slow down.
“I felt I needed to make an impact because I’m only on this world a short time,” she said. “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do what’s right all the time.”
She has continued to serve the community through volunteer work and community involvement.
She is a member of the St. Charles Parish Retired Teachers Association, the Bayer/Monsanto Community Advisory Panel, St. Anthony Catholic Church Busy Bees, and St. Charles Borromeo Peace and Justice Ministry.
Additionally, Suffrin also teaches finance to the women of the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, as well as teaches “Finance Park” for junior achievement to all eighth graders in St. Charles Parish.
She is president of the St. Charles Parish Women’s Club and president of the St. Charles Public School Foundation. As head of the Foundation, she said they gave $85,000 in grants last year that helped buy Prometheus boards and Chromebooks for students, subsidized the LEADS program to teach students leadership and the Senior Transition program to help seniors with finances.
Suffrin lives in Destrehan. Her husband, Al, serves on the school board, where he’s been a member for 12 years. They have three children: Alexis, Christina and Andrew.
When she’s not out serving the community, she enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren, ages 2 to 8.
“You have to give back,” she said. “Why would I sit here and do nothing all day long. I love Al, but I got to do something else. I hope I can give 37 more years.”