Sparks retires after 25 years at West MadisonPublished 4:57pm Monday, May 27, 2013
MADISON – Martha Sparks calls West Madison Elementary School her “home” … the home she now is leaving after 25 years.
West Madison is the only school at which she worked, and she’s thankful for a teaching and counseling career in Madison schools. “I’m proud of our system and how far we have come,” Sparks said.
When Sparks started teaching kindergarten and first grade, Madison only had “West Madison, Madison and Bob Jones. To have watched our system grow is like watching your children grow. We’re all a family in Madison City Schools; I’m proud of our family,” she said.
Sparks earned a bachelor’s degree at Athens State University and degrees in student personnel/guidance and in history at East Texas State University. She also attended Texarkana Community College, Southern Union College and Samford University.
She fondly remembers her “sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Tidwell. She read to us every day … and taught us to be responsible ladies and gentlemen. Values were taught by her, as well as our parents, so we got a double dose of character education.”
Sparks’ students knew she cared for them. “Some children don’t get that at home,” she said. For new counselors, Sparks advises “to listen with your heart. Students build up walls. Unless you’re looking beyond that, sometimes you miss what’s being said or can’t be said.”
She and husband David, who works for AMCOM, are parents of sons Jeff and Jody. Jeff works for Egen at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; his wife Lindsey works for the Mental Health Center of Madison County. Jody works as a logistics assistance representative for AMCOM.
“I have a new grandchild that I can’t wait to just play with and learn with all over again,” Sparks said. She plans to swim, boat and enjoy the outdoors at their lake house on Smith Lake. She also directs weddings and stays active at church and her homemakers’ club.
“I love to volunteer so that opens up a whole new world, too,” Sparks said.