State Superintendent of Schools

Debra K. Sullivan

Appointed to the West Virginia Board of Education in 2017 by Governor Jim Justice, Debra K. Sullivan of Charleston holds an undergraduate degree in English and Education from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in Language Communications from the University of Pittsburgh, additional coursework from Marshall University, and intensive training on teacher effectiveness from the Teaching and Learning Institute (Palo Alto, CA).

Sullivan, chairperson of the West Virginia Communities In Schools Advisory Council, works closely with First Lady Cathy Justice’s staff and WVDE staff to support implementation and expansion of this student support program in state schools.

Sullivan taught English and remedial reading in rural and inner city schools in Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  She served as the State Coordinator of Reading at the West Virginia Department of Education, Director of Adolescent Education with Putnam County Schools, Principal of Sacred Heart Grade School (pre-K-grade 5) and retired as principal of Charleston Catholic High School (grades 6-12).

Sullivan received the Distinguished West Virginian Award (2014) from Governor Tomblin, was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement (2012) and was named West Virginia recipient of the AdvancEd Excellence in Education Award (2011). The West Virginia State Bar Foundation selected her as recipient of the Outstanding Public Citizen Award (1999) and she was chosen as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Educator (1998), studying schools, universities, cultural sites and businesses in Japan.

In addition to co-delivering research papers on teacher effectiveness at national and state forums, Sullivan served as a high school principal representative on a National Council of Educational Statistics committee where she helped develop a common course classification system to be used across the United States to analyze students’ transcripts. She enjoyed serving as a lay member of the Visiting Committee at the WVU College of Law and of the Lawyers Disciplinary Committee for the West Virginia State Bar.

Active in her community, Sullivan is a member of the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Board of Trustees, State Library Commission, and Kanawha County Public Library Board. She is married to Ken Sullivan, retired Executive Director of the West Virginia Humanities Council. They are fortunate to have their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren living nearby in Charleston.