Jamie Sparks, the school health and physical education network director at the Kentucky Department of Education, recently received the SHAPE America Southern District Taylor Dodson Young Professional Award.
The Taylor Dodson Award recognizes a young professional who is less than 40 years old. The winner must have been a member of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America for at least five years and:
- Be a contributor within the health, physical education, sport and leisure, and dance fields or to the profession through allied fields;
- Be of high moral character, whose contributions have most fully expressed the spirit of service which the award represents;
- Have at least five years of meritorious service in southern district, with prominence gained through: excellence in teaching; outstanding administrative achievement; significant contributions in research; or leadership in professional organizations, including state and national contributions to professional literature or outstanding community service.
In his current position, Sparks develops statewide partnerships to implement exemplary school health programs, practices and policies. He also facilitates statewide trainings to promote the effective implementation of various aspects of Coordinated School Health programs, and manages statewide grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sparks also has taught health and physical education at the elementary, middle and high school levels. During this time, he was actively involved in coaching gymnastics and football, served on school health and wellness committees, and directed the district school health team that oversaw monitoring, implementation and annual evaluation of the district wellness policy.
Sparks is the past president of the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education Recreation and Dance. In addition to facilitating professional development opportunities within his state, he frequently travels and presents at district and national conferences.
“Jamie’s commitment and dedication to the health and education of the children in Kentucky in invaluable,” said Nicole Barber-Culp, the coordinated school health administrator from the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “He is a big-picture thinker who has achieved greatness through both policy change and best practice recommendations to school districts statewide. Jamie is deserving district recognition for both his character and the contributions he has made as an administrator and leader in school health education.”