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Joanna Sparks

Joanna Sparks (ID '03)

Teacher Excellence Program Developer


At the time of the Award, Joanna Sparks was:

Liberty Charter School
Nampa, ID

Subject(s) taught: English/Language, Communications, Social Studies
Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Biographical Information

Joanna's inaugural year in teaching (English/Language Arts/Communications) began at Custer Youth Correctional Facility in South Dakota, a boot camp designed to give hundreds of teenage boys the opportunity to gain the vision, hope and self-discipline necessary to turn them from a path directed toward much more serious incarceration. It was at this boot camp Joanna learned lecture was another word for "lifeless" and so began her career-long conviction that meaningful learning "lives and breathes". From 1996-2001 Joanna was twice nominated as Teacher of the Year for her innovative approaches to learning. Then in 2000 she read John Gatto's "A Different Kind of Teacher", resulting in a vision for a charter high school. By the summer of 2006 she had developed or worked as a consultant for three charter high schools in Idaho. In 2007 Joanna developed TEP (Teacher Excellence Program), designed for both new and veteran teachers wanting to bring about "the atmosphere of excellence" in their classrooms. In 2010 she authored her first children's book, "Marvelous!"

Personal Message

It is my conviction that the lasting value found wherever there is meaningful teaching and learning is never in what we teach but in the degree to which what we teach "lives and breathes". The powerful impact of sustaining an attitude of "enjoyment" and joy in the classroom cannot be overestimated--then to balance that joy with personal there's an atmosphere of excellence where meaningful learning can take place!

Additional Information


1995 Southern Oregon University, B.A.