To know that Sam Spaght '58/64 helped bring about significant changes within Wichita’s education community might revive one’s belief in innovators, leaders — even heroes. Spaght is remembered for his warmth, his sense of humor and his tireless efforts in bringing racial equality to Wichita Public Schools. He was the first African-American to hold a high-level position within the Wichita public school system, a tremendous feat when set in the context of the tumultuous era in which he took office as director of staff development in 1971.
Spaght began his career in education as a middle school English teacher. He also made time to serve on the boards of many community organizations, including the North Branch ymca, the Sedgwick County Association for Mental Health and Goodwill Industries.
In 1979 he was awarded the A. Price Woodard Jr. Award, an award given to a young Wichitan for outstanding service to the African-American community. In 1990 he was presented the Up With People Award by the Urban League of Wichita, the highest award the organization bestows on individuals. During the 1960’s he had helped develop the League’s bank training and leadership development programs, which allowed African-Americans and other minorities to gain training for entry-level jobs and to prepare for service on public boards and committees.
Spaght, an intensely private man who dedicated 41 years to bettering public education, died May 8.