Laurie Sullivan, Project Discovery Teacher

Hi! I’m Laurie Sullivan. After teaching for six years in California, I was hired to teach 4th grade at Barrett in 1993. In 1996 I applied for the Project Discovery position. I was thrilled when former Barrett principal Mrs.Bratt hired me as the Project Discovery teacher. I can not imagine a job that is more exciting. The students at Barrett are so enthusiastic about learning science and I really enjoy co-teaching with the talented teachers at Barrett.

I have two sons, Connor and Jackson. My oldest son Connor graduated from Virginia Tech with a double major in Engineering (Computer Science) and Mathematics. He is now working as a software developer with Amazon. In 11th grade Connor completed the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) course and summer academy at NASA Langley, which is open to high school juniors in Virginia. Connor says VASTS was a life-changing experience and he highly recommends the program. Maybe some of our Barrett students will join the program when they are older! My youngest son Jackson is serving our country in the United States Air Force. He has been based in Texas, South Korea, Germany and Delaware. A memorable time for me was when Jackson attended elementary school here at Barrett.

I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1987, two years after I married my high school sweetheart. My first teaching position was a second grade bilingual (Spanish) class. I was fortunate that the teacher in the classroom next to me was my master teacher from student teaching! She was a fabulous mentor for a beginning teacher. When a position opened at the elementary school where I attended as a child, I applied and was hired as a first grade teacher. After three years teaching first and second grade I moved to third grade. It was exciting to be able to plan lessons with the third grade teacher next door to me, MY MOM! She is an amazing teacher and I learned so much working with her. In Virginia I completed my Master’s degree in Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in Technology at George Mason University in 2003. Also in 2003 I was honored with representing all the dedicated teachers in Arlington as the Teacher of the Year. In 2004 I received the honor of being named the Virginia Teacher of the Year. In May 2010 I earned my doctorate from George Mason University.


· Doctorate in Instructional Technology and Curriculum & Instruction, George Mason University, May 2010

· Masters of Education, Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Technology, George Mason University, January 2003

·Certificate of Technology Integration, George Mason University, May 2000

·Virginia Technology Standards for Instructional Personnel, TSIPs Plus Mastery, May 2000

·California Teaching Credential, University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) Graduate School of Education, 1987

·Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1986

·Additional Graduate Course work at GMU (12 credits): Multimedia Project Production, Differentiated Instruction: Teaching Gifted Learners and Other Learners in a Heterogeneous Classroom, A Framework for Teaching and Learning, Developing Oral Language in a Culturally Diverse Classroom.


Teaching Employment History

1993 – Present – Barrett Elementary School, Arlington Public Schools

·         Project Discovery Teacher, Kindergarten through Fifth grades (1996-Present)

·         Design and teach hands-on/minds-on science and interdisciplinary units

·         Use technology and expository writing to enhance the science curriculum

·         Instructional Lead Teacher  (1999 – 2008, 2013 – 2016)

·         Science Lead Teacher  (2018/2019 – 2019/2020)

Classroom Teacher:

1993 – 1996 Barrett Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia – Fourth grade ethnically and linguistically diverse classes. Teamed with Special Education class.  Instructed the identified gifted students.  Taught third grade HILT (High Intensity Language Training) summer school and second grade Summer Laureate

1989 – 1993  Vieja Valley Elementary School, Hope School District, California – First, First/Second, and Third grade classes

1987 – 1989  Harding Elementary, Santa Barbara School District, CA – Second Grade bilingual classes. Taught and communicated with parents in Spanish and English.

Leading Activities in Professional Development

·     Co-taught a 3 credit course, A Framework for Teaching and Learning, for twenty-four Arlington teachers.  The course included brain research, designing and using assessment techniques, implementing best teaching practices, using technology effectively, creating units using the backward design process.

·     Green Schools Expo, George Mason University, March 2012·  Share-a-Thon Toyota grant presentation, Carpe Camera — Seize the Media Through a Scientific Lens: Video Podcasting Student Inquiries to the Worldwide Community. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual conference, Boston, March 2008

·      Co-presenter, Integrating Learner-Centered Theory and Technology to Create Engaging Pedagogy for K-12 Students and Teachers. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) international conference, Las Vegas, March 2008

·      Co-planned and facilitated a series of five school-based in-services on Understanding by Design (UbD) and Differentiation, October 2007 — April 2008

·       Presentation, From Antarctica to Mars: Exploring Science with Technology, Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) Professional Development Institute, November 2007

·         Presentation From Antarctica to Mars: Technology Integration Makes the Curriculum Come Alive for Elementary School Teachers and Students, Jefferson Overseas Schools Technology Institute (JOSTI), June 2007

·         Poster presentation, School Electronic Portfolios Support Reflection, Networking, and Evaluation, National Educators Computer Conference (NECC), Atlanta, June 2007

·         Poster presentation, Teachers’ Role in Urban Secondary School Literacy Reform. Community Research and Learning Network (CoRAL) conference, April 2007

·         Co-presenter, Keeping Pace with Urban Secondary School Literacy Reform: Preserving a Gentrified Community of Practice as a Place of Culturally Responsive Teacher Development and Opportunity. Ethnography in Education Research Forum, February 2007

·         Keynote Speaker, Making Sense of it All: How Assessment Gives Coherence to One School’s Instructional Program. Virginia Association of Test Directors annual conference, November 2004

·         Teacher Advisor for National Geographic for the Jason Project.  Designing curriculum in Panama June 2003.  Project Trainer in Fall 2003 for Jason XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads.

·         Presenter, Virtual Field Trip: Journeys to Wilderness Canyons, National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), June 2001

·         Co-presenter, Project Discovery Online, Multimedia Research Presentations Arlington Technology Symposiums, Summer 2000, 2001.  

·         Presenter, Project Discovery Online, Virginia Department of Education Technology Leadership Conference, December 2001

·         Co-presenter, Tapping Talents through Tiered Assignments, Northern Virginia Council for Gifted/Talented Education Conference, 1999

·         Co-presenter, Science in the Schoolyard, 1999

·         Co-planned and facilitated a series of five workshops, Science Standards of Learning in the 4th Grade Classroom, 1997 -1998

·         Presentations at the Arlington County Technology Open House, 1997, 1998

·         Presenter at the PHI DELTA KAPPA Technology in the Classroom Conference at George Mason University, 1998

·         Co-presenter, Integrating Students with Disabilities into General Education, at George Mason University and George Washington University, 1994, 1995

·         Co-presenter, Earth Science for Primary Teachers, Santa Barbara County Summer Conference, 1993

Attendance at Conferences, Workshops, and Webinars

Numerous Science, Math, and Technology conferences and workshops;  Meteorite Training at Goddard Space Flight Center, Teacher Tuesdays at the Challenger Learning Center (5 evenings), SMART Board, Visual Literacy, Reading and Writing in the Content Areas, Engineering is Elementary, Creating and Managing Powerful Professional Learning Teams, Building a Better Teacher Evaluation System

Field experiences to enhance teaching of Science and Mathematics

  • Oklahoma Severe Storm Weather Center, Geothermal power plant, Hoover Dam hydropower plant; Santa Barbara ocean oil rig, Utah steel and coal plant, Huntsville &  Colorado Springs Space Camps, Rainforests with National Geographic
  • Summer Study in Spain (1986) and Mexico (1987), attended classes and lived with Spanish-speaking families

Other professional activities:

  • APS Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee, 2007 – Current
  • Teachers Council on Instruction (TCI)
  • Formed the Barrett Grant Assistance Group with PTA parents, 2008
  • Developed a school partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Endangered Species Division, 2008
  • Developed a school partnership with Lockheed Martin, 2005
  • Collaborate with NASA as Barrett was selected as the first elementary NASA Explorer School in 2005
  • Lead teacher, California Science Implementation Network (CSIN), 1991 – 1993
  • Senior Fellow, South Coast Science Project summer session, UCSB, 1992
  • Supervised three student teachers, 1992 – 1993, 1996

Awards and Recognition

·         1st Place NASA Spinoff Contest  – Student entry “Volcanic Exploration Drone” Spring 2015

·         Toyota TAPESTRY & NSTA $10,000 grant, They Are Wild. They are Here. They are Yours…Connecting Kids with their National Wildlife Refuges and other Local Habitats, April 2011·

·        Science Museum of Virginia $1,600 grant, October 2009

·         Toyota TAPESTRY & NSTA $2,500 mini grant, Flight for Survival: Kindergarteners’ Journey with the Whooping Cranes,, February 2008

·         Donor’s Choose Grant, Roaring Robotics, 2008.

·         Science Museum of Virginia HCA Grant $1,300 for BioExpress program at Barrett Elementary, Dec 2007

·         Toyota TAPESTRY & NSTA $10,000 grant, Carpe Camera – Seize the Media Through a Scientific Lens: Video Podcasting Student Inquiries to the Worldwide Community, April 2006

·         Reduced Gravity Flight, Spinning Toys: Balance and Motion in Microgravity, 2006

·         NASA Explorer Schools Team Leader, $17,500 grant, May 2005

·         Russ Wayland Geology Grant, 2005

·         Virginia Teacher of the Year, 2004

·         Arlington Teacher of the Year, 2003

·         George Mason University Academic Excellence and Leadership award, May 2003

·         Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, April 2003

·         Washington Post $500 grant Multiple Intelligences Bloom in the Schoolyard Habitat, January 2003

·         Toyota and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics $10,000 grant Finding the Connections:  Linking Assessment and Instruction in the Primary Mathematics Classroom, April 2002

·         Orkin and Smithsonian Insect Safari visit and materials, $4,000 grant, June 2002

·         National Education Showcase Television, June 2001 – Featured in segment on virtual field trips.

·         Arlington Educator of the Year , Arlington branch of the American Association of University Women, Spring 2000

·         NASA Space Camp, all expenses paid, one of 16 chosen in the U.S., Summer 2000

·         Space Camp sponsored by the Space Foundation, tuition grant, Summer 1999

·         Title VI Innovative Education $15,000 grant, Project Discovery Online, January 1998

·         Four Arlington Energy Challenge grants, $3,100

·         Excellence in Science Teaching Award, UCSB, 1993


·         Co-published article with Dr. Mary Kayler and Dr. Debra Sprague for AACTE “Supporting Teachers Technological Skill Development and Pedagogical Approach: A Project-Based Approach” 2010

·         Interviewed for white paper by Wainhouse Research on the use of videoconferencing in Virginia, 2009

·         Co-author with Dr. Mary Kayler, Integrating Learner-Centered Theory and Technology to Create Engaging Pedagogy for K-12 Students and Teachers. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) international conference proceedings, Las Vegas, March 2008

·         Multimedia Schools, October 2001 journal, Charting Your Journey to Distance Learning

·         Observed and interviewed for Child Magazine article on technology use in schools, September 2002 issue

·         Project Discovery website:

·         Science in the Schoolyard, Arlington curriculum guide, September 1998

·         MathKeys Software Correlation Guide to Arlington Public Schools Math SOL

·         Guide for the Robert E. Lee Arlington House National Memorial by Lynn Levitt, Cynthia Long and Laurie Sullivan.  National Park Service, Department of the Interior, October 1996