Amy Taranko

Amy Taranko has been principal of Spitler Elementary School for seven years. Early in her tenure, Taranko facilitated the successful merger of two elementary buildings, guiding staff from diverse backgrounds in the development of a positive, unified school culture that puts students first. Spitler students experience many socioeconomic challenges: Seventy-six percent receive free or reduced meals; many do not speak English as a first language; and many come from families of migrant farmworkers, leading to a high transiency rate at the school. Despite these significant challenges, Taranko has guided Spitler toward academic success by transforming the way the school offers intervention support. Noticing the “revolving door” effect of multiple specialists pulling students away from core instruction, Taranko implemented school-wide intervention and enrichment periods known as “Treasure Time” to guarantee differentiated instruction without compromising core instruction. She has supported staff in developing data informed practices for improved instruction by facilitating periodic data reviews and a summer retreat focused on instructional development. As a result, Spitler was named a “Rewards School” and a “Beating the Odds School” by the state of Michigan for the 2013-2014 school year for showing high academic progress and scoring above projected rank for its demographic group. Taranko holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in Educational Administration from Central Michigan University, and a School Leadership Endorsement from MEMSPA.