Pasco's Susan Sparks named principal of the year

PASCO SCHOOL DIST. NEWS RELEASE -- Livingston Elementary School Principal Susan Sparks was selected as the 2012-13 Distinguished Elementary School Principal of the Year for the Lake Wallula region. The award, which is sponsored by the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) and Elementary School Principals of Washington (ESPAW) was announced on Oct. 24. With this honor, Sparks is eligible for the National Distinguished Principal Award next school year.

"Susan is a true educator and role model for many. Her dedication and genuine character inspire many of her students to love school, make life long goals, and reach for the stars," wrote colleagues Robin Hay Principal, McGee Elementary), Jody Hughes (Assistant Principal, Livingston Elementary), and Wendi Manthei (Principal, Chess Elementary) in their nomination of Sparks.

Sparks, who has been principal of Livingston since 2000, was recognized for her knowledge of state standards, strong communication skills, and leadership abilities that support parental and staff involvement. She builds strong relationships with Livingston families and employees and creates a positive learning and working environment.

Under Sparks's leadership, Livingston Elementary has twice been recognized as a Washington State Distinguished School for academic achievement and improvement on state assessments. And, this year, Livingston Elementary was classified as a Reward school by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Reward schools are categorized as "Highest-performing" and "High-progress." As a "High-progress" school, Livingston has been among the top 10 percent of Title I schools in Reading and Math, combined, for three years.

"The work I do, I can't do alone," says Sparks. "While I am grateful for this recognition, I give it back to my teachers who work so hard. Together we have that vision and focus to make sure these students get the best education possible." Sparks also thanked her colleagues for honoring her with their nomination.

Sparks began her teaching career at Livingston Elementary in 1982, and she can't imagine being anywhere else, she says. Over the years, she taught 2nd-5th grades at Livingston as well as working as a Celebrating academics,reading specialist for several years. In 1999, she started as assistant principal of Emerson Elementary, and a year later, she became principal at Livingston Elementary.

"I am fortunate to have been able to work with Susan as a colleague for nearly 30 years," says Superintendent Saundra Hill. "Her ability to have a vision for her students and know how to turn her vision into reality is truly inspiring to all of us. We are so proud of everything she has accomplished."

Sparks, who is from Spokane and earned her teaching degree at the University of Washington, moved to Pasco thanks to the strong persuasion of her husband, Bobby Sparks. The Sparks family are longtime Pasco residents with a long line of proud Pasco High School graduates. Bobby and several of his brothers wrestled for the Bulldogs; children of their nieces and nephews continue the family tradition today.

District employees Marlando and Quontica Sparks say of their Aunt Susan, "Susan is someone who shapes and molds the minds and hearts of the next generation as well as their parents to become heroes. The greatest compliments we have ever received while working in the District are those that connect us to her: 'Are you related to Mrs. Sparks, the Principal of Ruth Livingston?' With great pride and honor we shout out 'Yes, I am!' Aunt Susan, you are a great example of Grace with Accountability, Pride with Humility and unconditional love. We aspire to become just like you. We love you and honor you for your great achievement."