Faculty Spotlight: Making Connections at Marlow Middle School
With the ring of the morning bell on Thursday, Sara Specht will officially begin her new career as a science teacher at Marlow Middle School. The USAO graduate has spent the past decade as a chemist in the cement industry until she felt called to enter education.
“I really enjoyed my career,” Specht said. “But my son always said, ‘Mom, you should really be a teacher.’”
Inspired by her son and her own experiences in school, Specht started down a new road last school year by substituting at Marlow Public Schools and Red River Technology Center while taking classes online at USAO.
Specht said she was never planning to teach, but she feels that she was called to do so.
“I’ve always loved kids; I love being able to connect with kids,” Specht said. “I love being able to speak into their life. I haven’t always had the best circumstances in life myself. But in school, especially in middle school, that’s where you pick your path. So it’s such a rewarding thing to be able to pour something positive into kids today.”
Specht feels that the challenges she had in school and her efforts to overcome them inform her teaching style and her motivation as an educator. She faced some obstacles in high school, but attending the Edge alternative school at Duncan helped her graduate and get her degree.
“I’m testimony that you can go to alternative school and go to college,” Specht said. “And now coming full circle. To be here in the school with these kids now, I have so much life experience and I can say, ‘I see you and where you’re going because I’ve been there.’ But you can choose your path…and there will be people who can lift you up and support you. I want to be that for kids.”
Specht made teaching at Marlow a specific priority due to her love for the community and her son Isaiah’s enthusiasm for the Marlow Outlaws. Isaiah was in sixth grade at Marlow Elementary when he died in a tragic accident in February 2019.
“This community showed up for me in so many ways,” Specht said. “He loved it here. We didn’t really know Marlow until we stumbled upon our house here in 2015. I kept hearing ‘Marlow’s a great school,’ but we didn’t know how great until he transferred here and he just loved it.”
Isaiah started fourth grade at Marlow Elementary and immediately made friends.
“That first day, I dropped him off and he was nervous about the change in school. But he came out at the end of the day and said, ‘Mom, I just made the best friends I’ve ever had.’ Once he got into the Marlow environment, he came out of his shell and everything just clicked,” Specht said.
They knew then why they’d often heard good things about Marlow schools.
“I would have been very happy to have my son finish his education at Marlow,” Specht said. “After substituting at the high school, I know he would have loved it there. He would have loved graduating as an Outlaw.”
Specht feels that the entire community benefits from the culture developed by the current school administration.
“They are very deliberate and intentional,” Specht said. “They have goals, they have a plan, and they know their path. Their philosophy is ‘kids first.’ Yes, learning is very important and we want kids to be successful and we want the teachers to lead them to that. But at the end of the day, they want us to be a solid person in kids’ lives. We want to educate the whole kid.”
Specht believes that approach travels throughout the community to make Marlow a better place, illustrated by the outpouring of support throughout the loss of her son.
“This community showed up for me in so many ways,” Specht said. “Everybody showed up. And at the end of the day, the love the community had for me and for Isaiah flowed out. And I feel him still, just right there encouraging me.”
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