Mary Sullivan

Mary Dockstader Sullivan, Ed.D. believes passionately in the importance of public education in a democratic society, and she sees her students’ authentic research in the community to be the most important contribution she makes to education. Her own roots run deep in the community: Sullivan’s paternal grandmother was the first white child born in what is now Flathead County; at the time of her birth in 1885, it was Missoula County and Montana Territory. Sullivan’s great grandfather was the first sheriff of Flathead County. Her maternal grandparents moved from Kansas to Montana and reclaimed a homestead on the east shore of Flathead Lake in 1917.

Sullivan was a teacher, librarian and administrator in Tacoma, Washington, before returning to her Montana home. In Tacoma, she was Project Coordinator of the Ethical Quest in a Democratic Society. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Project trained teachers to help students identify and deal with ethical issues using the existing classroom curriculum. Sullivan now teaches English at Bigfork High School. She coached the Bigfork speech and drama team for 10 years and was named Montana State Class “A? Coach of the Year in 2000.

Sullivan has given educational workshops in the US, Canada and Asia including “The Role of Schools and Teachers in Stimulating Ethical and Moral Reasoning in Students? at the East Asian Regional Conference of Overseas Schools in Bangkok, Thailand, and “School Democracy and Civic Education Projects? with Lawrence Kohlberg, Ralph Mosher and Paul Sullivan at the National Conference on Civic Education in Santa Monica, California.

Publications include “Counseling and Values Education in the Schools? in The Personnel and Guidance Journal and “Values Education and American Schools: Worlds in Collision?? in Values Development as the Aim of Education, R. Mosher and N. Sprinthall, eds., Schenectady, NY, Character Research Press.

When asked to name a highlight of her teaching career, Sullivan replied, “Taking four students to Washington, D.C., in April, 2003, where they presented their Montana Heritage Project research at the Library of Congress. The students also had an opportunity to meet with James Billington, Librarian of Congress, in his private office. It was an incredible experience with all expenses generously paid by the Liz Claiborne-Art Ortenberg Foundation.? Because Bigfork High School is a charter member of the National Veterans History Project, Sullivan was invited to attend the charter conference meeting in Washington that same week She and her students attended the gala reception held in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress where Bigfork students’ work with veterans was on display.

Sullivan served on the negotiating team and as vice president of the Bigfork Area Education Association for four years. Past volunteer activities include Bigfork Cancer Crusade Chair; Bigfork Art and Cultural Center, Membership Committee; and Glacier Symphony and Chorale League, Board Member. She currently serves on the Flathead County Library Foundation Board.

Favorite travel experiences include viewing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and holding Xiang Xiang, a Panda bear cub, at the Chinese Panda Research Center in Chengdu. However, Sullivan’s students are more intrigued by her skydiving adventure with her son on his 18th birthday.

Sullivan and her husband, Paul, guidance counselor at Bigfork High School, have two children: Maureen, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, and Paul Jr. who will begin law school at UPenn in the fall.

Posted by Matt Porrovecchio on 02/07 at 04:40 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project