Four GT directors remember careers, say GT students need advocates

Posted: May 30, 2017 at 1:02 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Barbara Prichard (center), director of Gifted and Talented and Advanced Placement for Fayetteville Public Schools, is greeted Thursday by Jane (left) and David Gearhart, former chancellor for the University of Arkansas, at a reception in the courtyard of the McClinton Administration Building in Fayetteville. Prichard is retiring after 34 years in education.

Four retiring education leaders in Northwest Arkansas have helped shape gifted and talented education since it was introduced to the state.

File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Larry Driver (standing), director of the Northwest Arkansas Winter Open Chess Tournament, watches compet...

Sandra Johnson

Jo Vanderspikken

Sandra Johnson, 53

• Retiring after 31½ years in education

• Gifted and talented education specialist at Ozarks Unlimited Resource Education Service Center for 12 years

• Started career with one-semester position in Jasper School District, before going to former Bruno-Pyatt School District and later Omaha School District. gifted and talented coordinator for Bergman School District

• Legislative chairwoman and past president for Arkansas Association of Gifted Education Administrators

• Education chairwoman and legislative committee co-chairwoman Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education

• Member of legislative and advocacy committee for National Association for Gifted Children


Barbara Prichard, 71

• Retiring after 42 years in education

• Director of gifted and talented and Advanced Placement programs for Fayetteville School District since 1983

• Started as a classroom teacher in 1967 in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Also taught in Aschaffenburg, Germany, in Department of Defense schools; Hope County Schools, N.C.; and Cumberland County Schools, N.C.

• Serves on Academic Assembly Council for the College Board

• Legislative committee co-chairwoman for Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education

• Charter member, past president and former board member for Arkansas Association for Gifted Education Administrators


Larry Driver, 66

• Retiring after 37 years in education

• Gifted and talented education specialist at Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative for six years

• Began education career in Michigan in 1974. Taught for seven years in Oark and 21 years in Fayetteville, including 18 years in gifted education.


Jo Vanderspikken, 65

• Retiring after 33 years in education

• Kindergarten through 12th-grade gifted and talented program coordinator, economics coordinator for Springdale School District for 28 years

• Started career as kindergarten teacher at John Tyson Elementary School. Also taught at T.G. Smith Elementary. Former gifted and talented teacher at Walker Elementary and Southwest Junior High School.

• Former president and conference chairwoman for Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education

Source: Staff report

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