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<em>“Faculty Spotlight” profile of Dr. Kathleen Sullivan (’06) from the Oakcrest School </em>Oakleaf “Faculty Spotlight” profile of Dr. Kathleen Sullivan (’06) from the Oakcrest School Oakleaf

The recently released annual report of Oakcrest School — a Catholic school for girls, grades 6-12, in McLean, Virginia — features a profile of a new member of the school’s English faculty: Dr. Kathleen Sullivan (’06).

“Oakcrest’s newest English teacher, Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, is already beloved for her infectious enthusiasm, warm concern for her students, and taste in polka-dot dresses,” the profile begins.  “Sullivan joined the Oakcrest faculty in fall 2016, fresh from her doctoral studies at the Catholic University of America. She also has a B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College and an M.A. in English from the University of Dallas.”

The profile, which is, alas, not available online, continues::

Dr. Sullivan can trace her own academic path back to a sense of wonder as a teenager in Thomas Aquinas College’s summer program. The program brings high school students to the California campus to study and discuss works of philosophy, theology, literature, and math. Initially diffident about participating in the seminar discussions, Sullivan felt something click when they studied Euclid. As students went to the board to demonstrate geometry proofs, she thought, “This is awesome, this is what I want to do.” Not geometry per se — but an education where “you [as a student] have the responsibility to figure out what is true.” A few months later, she applied to only one college: TAC.

As an undergraduate, Sullivan was thrilled by the big-picture perspective the Great Book curriculum at TAC encouraged. “I loved, loved, loved studying for final exams,” she says. “You were studying for six, seven different class. And when you were studying them all at once, you saw the unity, you discovered what was always there — the transcendent truths. … You don’t understand it completely, but you understand it better.” …

When it comes to writing essays, she tries to pass on what she learned about writing concisely and logically from her TAC professors. “I remember working so hard to make every word count,” she says. But more fundamentally, she wants to instill girls with a confidence that they can write. She notes that sophomores who quailed initially at a creative writing assignment later turned in 30-paged short stories, heartened by their achievement.

In addition to serving as Oakcrest’s upper-school English literature teacher, Dr. Sullivan is also the school’s 10th grade class dean. She recently gave a talk to her students’ parents, How Reading and Writing Letters Promotes Character Growth, which is available as a podcast.

Friends of the College may recognize Dr. Sullivan as the head women’s prefect on the College’s annual Summer Program for high school students.