The teach goes on…

Mary Helen Darah

Sue Bissonette

According to Webster, the definition of teacher is “one whose occupation is to instruct, usually in a formal environment.” Sylvania’s iconic Sue Bissonette goes far beyond mere instruction at SIP Coffee House where you can find her tutoring, all but one day of the week, and it is anything but formal.

Bissonette’s name was shortened by one of her students at Maumee Valley Country Day School and to this day the beloved educator is known as Miss Biss.

She began her teaching career at Burnham in Sylvania in 1960, the year it opened as a junior high. “I taught there for eight years,” she recalled. “My ‘children’ from there are now in their 70s. I see some of them every so often. They are usually surprised because they were under the assumption that I was dead!” Miss Biss started tutoring in 1968 when her daughter was born. “Rob Parmalee was my first student and he would come to my house for tutoring,” she said. “I thought I’d go back to teaching but I stayed home until I was asked to sub at Holy Spirit Seminary. Then I was asked to teach one class at Maumee Valley until Holy Spirit Seminary High School shut down. I ended up teaching at Maumee Valley for 26 years and loved every minute of it.”

Twenty-two years ago, Bissonette was hoping to find a place besides her home to tutor. “One of my favorite students suggested Beaners in Cricket West, which worked perfectly for years. I was then told they were closing and once again wondered where I could go. I asked Marnie Greenblatt if she thought her brother would mind if I tutored at Barry’s in Westgate. I tutored there until I heard from Courtney Cousino that a new coffee shop was opening in the old Beaner’s called SIP Coffee House. The owner of SIP said I could tutor there the rest of my life. When I came back for the first time, there was a sign that said ‘Welcome back Miss Biss!’”

Currently, you can find Miss Biss explaining math concepts and tips of her trade every day at SIP except Friday. “I volunteer at the ProMedica Flower Hospital Gift Shop on Fridays. SIP and Flower Hospital are my favorite places,” she stated. Monday through Thursday she begins tutoring at 3 pm when kids get out of school. “I used to come back at night but I don’t do that anymore. I stay until 6 pm. I’m also here on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm because some of my kids have sports and can’t come after school. I have never been good at saying ‘no’.”


“I thank my lucky stars that I can go up the stairs at SIP at 84 years old. Even more importantly, I can remember the math. Every time I tutor new kids I worry needlessly that they are not going to connect with me. We always end up bonding. At my age, to be able to relate to kids is phenomenal. My kids and parents are so appreciative. I used to tutor high school kids only but now I take college kids as well. Again, I am a woman who can’t say ‘no’. I have a couple of younger students as well. One makes my day by doing a ‘happy dance’ when she conquers a new math concept.”

Miss Biss loves keeping busy and says her tutoring never feels like work. “Every place I go I see former students. Many keep in touch with me even when they leave town. I have never thought of quitting. Over the years I have developed so many shortcuts. My students say, ‘You should write a book.’ But who has time for that?” Apparently not a devoted, big-hearted educator and octogenarian named Miss Biss.

One thought on “The teach goes on…

  1. As a former student of Miss Biss fro the ’80’s i love to hear that her enthusiasm for teaching has never waned! We love you Miss Biss!!! 🥰

Leave a Reply