FCPS Names Brian Sullivan its 2017 Teacher of the Year

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
August 10, 2016
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

James Wood High School math teacher Brian Sullivan was named Frederick County Public Schools’ 2017 Teacher of the Year during the school division’s annual convocation program this morning. Sullivan is entering his fifth year as a teacher at James Wood. 

Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “Mr. Sullivan is an outstanding representative of the teachers who work with the students across our school division each day. He is a life-long learner who is extremely dedicated to each of his students. Mr. Sullivan is a highly successful math teacher because he understands the importance of being open to change, seeking input from students and offering engaging instruction that connects the concepts being taught to real world experiences. He is a fine example of an educator who is committed to his students, his profession and working with his peers to ensure all students receive the best education possible.”

Sullivan says he knew he wanted to become a teacher from the time he was a student in seventh grade. He says, “As a middle school student, I remember setting up a classroom and teaching my sister and her friends on the weekends. I would make up my own tests and quizzes and can remember the thrills of teaching students for the first time. Throughout high school, I learned different teaching styles and remember writing down what I liked and didn’t like about the teacher, the structure of the class and the classroom management.”

Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in math and master’s degree in education at Slippery Rock University in May 2012 and began his teaching career at James Wood High School that fall.

Sullivan believes outstanding teachers have to be committed to life-long learning and be willing to accept and implement change. He also believes that listening is a skill that’s vital when working with students. He says, “I listen to my students and make them feel like what they have to say is important. By creating that rapport in the classroom consisting of equal contributions by both the teacher and the students, everyone feels like their thoughts are well represented and everyone benefits.”

Although it’s often a challenge to get high school students excited about math, Sullivan has found that he can engage students in the learning process by taking an interest in them individually, building relationships, connecting math to the real world and adapting his teaching style to fit the individual needs of his students. He says, “I do not have any secret recipes for making students like math. Everyday students walk into my class, they know they have my respect and that I will attempt to engage them in a lesson to which they can relate. By building relationships, students know you are invested in their well-being while in school and this enables teachers to make a connection which is the single most pivotal piece to capturing students’ interest in learning.” He adds, “The teachers I had throughout my schooling had the largest impact on helping me be the teacher that I am today. They taught me to be willing to try new things and to not be afraid of change.”

Sullivan was one of three finalists for the 2017 Frederick County Teacher of the Year Award. The other finalists were Stonewall Elementary School special education teacher Wendy Bowers and Evendale Elementary School fifth grade teacher Holly Lightcap.

The other nominees were: Bethany Crouse, Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School; Gina Carty, Armel Elementary School; Elizabeth Stubbs, Bass-Hoover Elementary School; Natalie Davenport, Gainesboro Elementary School; Karen Clowser, Greenwood Mill Elementary School; Rachel Rinker, Indian Hollow Elementary School; Beth Ballard, Middletown Elementary School; Anne Winn, Orchard View Elementary School; Angie Gray, Redbud Run Elementary School; Michelle Hammer, Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School; Anthony Boring, Frederick County Middle School; Christopher Fairchild, James Wood Middle School; Sarah Paul, Robert E. Aylor Middle School; Daniel Friend, Millbrook High School; Dong Phuong Truong, Sherando High School; Christie Patton, Dowell J. Howard Learning Center; and Erin Oh, NREP/Senseny Road School.

Frederick County Public Schools initiated the Teacher of the Year program in 1990. Each spring, every school site nominates one candidate for the Teacher of the Year Award. Each candidate is asked to complete an application which is reviewed by a committee of community leaders and educators. Three finalists are selected and interviewed to determine the Frederick County Teacher of the Year. The recipient of the award represents Frederick County in the Virginia Teacher of the Year program.

The Teacher of the Year runners-up receive a plaque; a $1,000 spending account to be used for instructional materials, supplies or travel; and a $150 Best Buy gift card.

The Teacher of the Year receives a plaque; a gold signet ring featuring the school division’s logo encircled by the words “Teacher of the Year”; a $3,000 spending account to be used for instructional materials, supplies or travel; and a $150 Best Buy gift card. In addition, the winner's name is placed on a permanent plaque in the board room at the Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building.

The Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation and Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield co-sponsored this year’s Teacher of the Year Award. The ring given to the Teacher of the Year is provided by Gregg Miller, the local representative of the Herff Jones Company. The Best Buy gift cards awarded to the Teacher of the Year and the two runners-up were donated by BB&T Insurance Services.