All students should be given the opportunity to learn as gifted students.
This is something schools don’t hear every day. When Laker Superintendent Brian Keim and fellow administrators heard this from Sherry Sparks, a lifelong teacher, staff developer and gifted education advocate from Oakland County, they knew they were at the doorstep of something very exciting.
Keim said an elementary parent had asked him about “gifted education” for her child and others who may benefit from new challenges in their learning, and in this conversation, Sparks’s name was brought up. Keim, along with elementary Principal Jill VerBurg and secondary Principal Mr. Good, scheduled a conference call with Sparks to learn more about her work.
“We were impressed by her resume, but even more so by her belief that all students should be given the opportunity to learn as gifted students, and that there are many simple things we can do to help each student reach their maximum potential,” Keim said. “Sherry also has an extensive background in curriculum development, which fits our professional development theme for this year.”
After the conference call, Sparks came to Lakers for a visit and some more conversation with administrators and staff members. Keim said Sparks will be able to help Lakers take the next step in its journey toward educational excellence.
“We are confident that she would be a great fit for the district and that people will really enjoy working with her,” Keim said. “She was equally impressed with the things she saw (here) and the people she met. She is extremely selective with her commitments, but left here very excited to work with us.”
Sparks recently met with elementary and secondary school teachers to learn more about their instructional needs and goals. Keim said more meetings with teachers are coming up in February and March. During these meetings, Sparks will work with teachers to create plans to meet their needs and goals and develop methods to offer gifted education to every student.
“The feedback from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive,” Keim said. “I’ve received many notes saying how excited they are to continue their work with her, and specific ways that she will help our students and school grow.”
He noted that Sparks also shared how much she enjoyed working with Laker teachers.
“She was very complimentary of their positive attitudes and their eagerness to try new things,” he said.
Keim said funding for this kind of work with Sparks is designated in the district’s annual professional development budget, with additional funds available through Title 2a grants.
“It’s important to note that this is not a new ‘program’ or flavor of the month initiative,” he said. “This is simply a way to take the things we are currently doing and do them even better. We are a very strong district now, but I believe we will all be challenged by Sherry and become something greater than we’ve imagined!”
Above photo – Sherry Sparks meets with third grade teachers Mrs. Smithers, Mrs. Jimkoski and Mrs. Carr.