City school board to honor outstanding teacher of gifted learners

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(Courtesy VBCPS)
(Courtesy VBCPS)

A teacher of gifted high-school students will be honored by the city’s school board today.

Missy Sullivan, who works at First Colonial High School, was named an outstanding teacher of 2016 by the Virginia Association for the Gifted, a network of advocates for gifted education. She was nominated by two teachers at her school and selected as the winner from Region II, one nine regions in the state. Sullivan has taught in Virginia Beach City Public Schools for 17 years. Her latest recognition will come during a meeting of the school board, according to the agenda.

“Getting this award means a lot,” Sullivan said in a phone interview. “I’m humbled but excited at the same time because it’s kind of almost letting me know – hey look, you’re doing something right here.”

At First Colonial, Sullivan works with other teachers to help modify content for roughly 250 gifted learners. She also meets with parents and provides counseling to students.

“That’s why I love my job,” she said. It’s never the same.”

Among the qualities applicants had to demonstrate were: a commitment to gifted education through teaching, curriculum development and working with students and parents; and involvement with professional organizations, according to the application, which is on the association’s website.

Sullivan, 49, received a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Old Dominion University in May. She also has a master’s degree in gifted education from the University of Connecticut, which she earned in 2004, and a master’s in administration and supervision from Bowie State University, which she earned in 1995. She graduated from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education in 1990.

For Sullivan, her job comes down to the students.

“We try to keep it really authentic for the kids,” she said. “And personal.”

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.