Sara grew up in a family of educators (from her grandmother teaching at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School to her mother being the school nurse at her own elementary school) and the importance of education was instilled in her at a very young age. Since she was two years old, Sara describes music as her first love, and after teaching music and band for 12 years she now serves as the Program for Academic and Creative Talent (PACT) Resource Specialist at 3 elementary schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District for the past 3 years.
Her experience and passion teaching music has directly influenced her mission to advocate for gifted education for students and their families, focusing on both academic and creative talent. Sara describes the wide spectrum between ADHD, autism, and gifted students and how she strives to find opportunities for her students to utilize their existing skills, cultivate new talents, and apply both to new and challenging situations. For example, her students create and solve their own math problems (it’s one thing to answer a question but another to create one from scratch!), conduct a mystery Skype with students from around the world as part of their global literature curriculum, and participate in creative writing exercises on Kid Blog where they also review peer writing from nearby schools. All of these activities extend the school day from beyond the school walls and allow her students to think creatively and outside the box.
Beyond the classroom, Sara serves as a member of the NEA State Network of Educators for Smarter Balance Digital Library, where she reviews lesson plans and instructional tools to help teachers meet Common Core standards as well as provide formative assessment tools to help them monitor student learning. She was also recently appointed by the Governor to serve on the Board of Educational Examiners to discuss licensure changes and handle peer ethic complaints. After being selected to participate in the Teacher Leadership Initiative, Sara told her students that: “I’m doing this for you to make sure you have the best educational environment available.” Sara continues her advocacy efforts and systems thinking through her work as a VIVA Teacher and member of the CREA Executive Board.