MTA Vice President Timothy Sullivan
Timothy Sullivan, vice president of the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, is a staunch advocate for students, public schools and public higher education.
Sullivan, a middle school reading teacher, computer lab manager and former president of the Brockton Education Association, began his second two-year term as vice president of the MTA in July 2012.
Sullivan has been an educator for more than two decades. From 1987 to 1992, he taught Title I reading and math at the South Middle School and the Arnone Elementary School. From the fall of 1993 until 2006, Sullivan worked with seventh- and eighth-graders as an instructional technology specialist at the South Middle School.
As a classroom teacher, he has a wealth of experience working with students of varying ethnicities and learning abilities. As an association leader, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of students and educators. For example, he advocated for state funding to support the Brockton Public Schools after they took in more than 120 students from Haiti following a disastrous earthquake.
The Brockton Public Schools are credited with overcoming many of the obstacles faced by other urban school districts, a process that Sullivan helped foster during his time as BEA president.
For several years, Sullivan taught the children of migrant workers during summers and on weekends as part of the federally funded Massachusetts Migrant Education Program. From 1980 to 1997, he taught at every level of the program, which serves children of migrant agricultural workers and fishing industry employees. He also served for several summers as head teacher of the entire program. In 1990, the U.S. Department of Education recognized his contribution to the program with the Outstanding Educator of Migrant Students Award.
Sullivan has long been committed to union work. Prior to being elected to lead the 1,400-member BEA in 2006, he served as the union’s vice president for 12 years. He also has served on the MTA Executive Committee and the MTA Board of Directors, as well as other association committees. He is a second-generation union leader and one of two teachers in his family. His sister, Ellen Burns, is an elementary school teacher in the Hanover Public Schools.
Sullivan has experienced collective bargaining not only as a union member, but also as a school committee member. For 10 years, he served as the Braintree representative on the Blue Hills Regional School Committee. He also was an elected Braintree Town Meeting member for 15 years.
He is a product of the Braintree Public Schools. After graduating from Barrington College, he went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Administration from Bridgewater State University. In 2009, he earned a doctorate in education from the Leadership in Schooling Program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Sullivan represents the MTA and other labor organizations as a member of the state Group Insurance Commission. He also serves as a co-chair of the Working Group for Educator Excellence, a coalition dedicated to ensuring excellent teaching and learning conditions.
On a personal note, Sullivan is a soloist at three local churches. He began singing in elementary school and gives credit for his pursuit of music to two educators who took note of his ability: Mrs. Hill, a teacher at the Morrison Elementary School in Braintree who encouraged him to pursue his gift; and Mr. Clinton, a Braintree High School teacher who pushed him to take voice and piano lessons.
Sullivan and his wife, Joyce, live in Weymouth with their son, Timothy Jr.