Carmen Sparkman first joined the Metro Nashville Public Schools family in 1961 as a first grader at Meigs School, which during that time served as an elementary, junior and high school for African-American students. With the gradual desegregation of Nashville’s public schools, beginning in 1957, Sparkman witnessed firsthand a historic moment in our city.
In the fall of 1970, Sparkman left Meigs to begin her sophomore year at East High School, which previously enrolled white students.
“My first year at East was full of discovery – from the day-to-day adjustment of being in a much larger building to meeting classmates who were just as apprehensive as I was,” Sparkman said. “Getting involved in several activities and clubs was key to making the adjustment and provided outlets for me to spread my wings. I remember many one-on-one and small group conversations with classmates that helped us all realize we were much more alike than we were different.”
Some of her favorite memories as an MNPS student included meeting lifelong friends while at Meigs, and traveling to Mexico with the Spanish club at East High.
Sparkman became a student-turned-employee beginning her career with MNPS in 1977, serving as an administrative assistant. She eventually became an exceptional education teacher assistant and then as an in-school suspension staff person at the middle school level.
In 1988, she continued her work with MNPS joining the PENCIL Foundation, where she was assigned to various middle and high schools to provide dropout prevention and school-to-career readiness opportunities. In 2013, Sparkman returned to the district and currently works as a travel specialist.
“I enjoy working at MNPS because there is no question that every day you can make a positive difference in the lives of students and teachers,” Sparkman said. “I come from a family of educators, and we were taught by word and deed that what you do for others is the most important contribution you can make.”
She added, “As a student and employee, I have witnessed MNPS transform from a network of neighborhood schools to comprehensive schools to now the intentional and positive move toward an excellent education for every child.”