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Familiar face takes on new role

Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jan 9, 2014 at 12:17 PM

A familiar face in Wilson County Schools began a new role this week as Mary Ann Sparks began her duties as deputy director of talent management for the school system.

Sparks had been serving as the director of human resources since 2006 until being given this new title with the restructuring of the Central Office. She said her new job encompasses all the responsibilities of her current one but adds a new dimension in that she now plays more of a part in professional development.

"It's a perfect segueway," Sparks said. "What this adds to it is the teacher growth piece, mentoring and professional development."

It also allows her to work with the instructional supervisors, she added.

One area that she said she wants to make a difference in is keeping high performing teachers in Wilson County Schools. Many highly qualified and effective teachers begin careers here in the county but then move to other school systems due to pay differences.

"Starting pay in Wilson County is 80th in the state," Sparks said. "That is not where we want to be. We used to recruit, retain and replace. We want to change that to recruit, retain and reward, to keep the teachers that we have that are effective."

For Sparks, the most important part of the position will be the mentoring aspect. Sparks, who began her career in Wilson County as an elementary school teacher in 1987 at Mt. Juliet Elementary, said "it was always so important to me that kids be engaged in learning, be able to apply what they learned. I look forward to getting back into the mentoring."

She hopes that this mentoring process will ultimately lead to better student achievement.

"That should be the ultimate goal for any move that I make, or anyone in the school system. It goes from developing strategies for instruction and support to rewarding and leveraging good teachers so that every child has the opportunity to have a good teacher," said Sparks.

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