First, there was Spanish Nuts and Bolts! It started as a way to reach out to parents of kids at Chugiak Elementary School who wanted to learn Spanish. Here is how I ended up teaching there, and eventually starting this business.
I‘ve always had a knack for talking too much, so naturally when I ran out of listeners in English I had to get a new gig. I took Spanish in public schools in Texas, and later, while teaching in a variety of childcare programs (including bilingual Head Start), I got a B.S. in Psychology/Spanish at Texas Christian University. After getting married, graduating, and having our first child I worked for the State of Texas where I was immersed in Spanish daily and fell in love with the beautiful culture, language, and people I grew to know. That experience led me in 1995 to take a position as a bilingual early childhood teacher with Fort Worth ISD. When I wasn’t driving back and forth to Denton for graduate classes, I spent my evenings and weekends at the parties and quinceañeras of my school families with my young son and daughter and my husband. Those days flew by!
At school, I became a mentor and demo teacher, gave professional development to district ESL and bilingual teachers, and presented at bilingual conferences in Texas. We moved back to Alaska in 2003, where I had grown up, and since then I have spent 16 additional years doing the same things for Anchorage School District as a Spanish Immersion teacher.
The majority of my years at ASD I was deeply involved in developing reporting tools, writing expectations and standards, writing curriculum for Immersion and Science content, training both new and experienced teachers, running summer Spanish, Art, or Science programs, and gathering hours and hours of graduate work in bilingual education, early childhood, curriculum and instruction, and educational leadership. I also taught a cozy and entertaining Spanish class for adults on nights and weekends for ten years. I called it Spanish Nuts and Bolts! Eventually, I decided to put some of my teacher-created materials on Teachers Pay Teachers, and get a few of my games professionally manufactured so they would be more durable and maybe even go home with families!
In 2019, I retired from teaching in public schools and work with students in my home studio. Now, I am fortunate to get to spend more time with the youngest of my three children, Ben, as he studies homeschool curriculum and Oreos. My eldest, Zach, is bilingual and has a fabulous job in L.A. using his Spanish in the business world. My lovely daughter, Abi (also bilingual since toddlerhood), is a teacher, a professional musician, performing artist, and full-time student. (I linked the pic to her website!) My husband, Tony, still teaches full-time for ASD, and we will celebrate 32 years of being BFFs this year. These days I deeply enjoy cooking, spending time with my family and my pets, washing hundreds of dishes each week, tripping over dog toys, and using my many years of experience to share my love of Spanish language and culture with others. This website and the business I run here is the best way I have found to gather a community of inspired language learners and share my resources with anyone who might need ideas. Thanks for visiting!
Senora Sparkman has been working with my son, now 7, for the past 18 months. During that time, he has thrived. His Spanish is better with each passing week and he feels increasingly confident in his skills. In addition to her in person group classes, he has taken her monthly art classes as well, which he loves! Now, he received 1-on-1 tutoring online, which has gone fantastic. I had some initial hesitation, due to concerns about my son’s learning style, however he has not only enjoyed this way of learning, but excelled with this method. One of the features I love in addition to his twice weekly classes is that he also has access to online books (in Spanish, of course) as well as other online tools. Not only do we intend to keep our son enrolled with Spanish Nuts & Bolts, but I recommend the program to anyone who is interested in expanding their child’s Spanish proficiency.
Lisa L., mom of Cooper
I have two boys who have been part of Senora Sparkman’s program for several years. We started with the art classes, to the afterschool program, and now the online program. All of her programs have been built on a foundation of support but also educational fun. Senora Sparkman’s zest for life truly resonates throughout her program and that positivity transfers to the children she teaches. Throughout the programs, especially the online program, I have seen both my kids’ confidence in reading and writing grow exponentially. It is truly comforting as a parent to know that there is a program out there to help push their Spanish proficiency forward. Spanish Nuts and Bolts comes with my highest recommendation as a program that is not only supportive, but also fun and educational, and worth the investment for expanding any child’s Spanish proficiency.
Janney D., mother of 2 children in the program”
Can’t say enough positive things about this program. It is truly a Fantastic Spanish Program!!! My child flourished en Espanol in such a fun, playful way that she often forgot that she was learning Spanish. Kudos to Spanish Nuts & Bolts for making learning so much fun for all!!!
We were looking for online Spanish lessons or tutoring to support our child. We wanted to have a dedicated, certificated teacher who could modify lessons to best meet his needs. We liked that www.spanishnutsandbolts.com has access to tutoring, games, songs, and online downloads for Spanish practice. What’s even better is that you can order the games to play at home!! They are easy to play and a great way to practice the Spanish language while having fun!! We highly recommend this website and teacher to families looking for Spanish language support.
Joe, Carrie and Weston
Sra. Sparkman is an excellent teacher that has been teaching my kids in Spanish for the past 4 years. She is very flexible in her teaching method, adjusting to each kid’s needs, always encouraging, and makes learning fun. My daughter is only 9 can hold a legitimate conversation with our Spanish speaking relatives. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone that is looking to learn or improve their Spanish.