By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Lee County Schools Teacher of the Year Sonya Williams can’t contain the love she has for teaching and her students.
“It is a matter of the heart,” the Shannon Elementary inclusion teacher wrote about her teaching philosophy. “I think that academia and progress are important, but first and foremost you must love your students. Shower them with love, adoration and praise. Then they will perform for you.”
An outside committee selected Williams from the field of teachers of the year from the 13 district schools.
“I’m just shocked and humbled,” Williams said after she was named the district teacher of the year. She has taught for 16 years at Shannon Elementary, and the award “is just so good for our school.”
Her greatest victories are when she sees her former students become productive citizens in the real world. A student recently chased her down in the grocery store.
“I have a job. I am working. I am staying out of trouble,” he told her, and he gave her a big hug. That student had struggled with academics and behavior issues in his school career, and it was so gratifying to hear he was finding success, she said.
“We really can make a difference in the lives of others,” Williams said.
She and her husband, Phillip Williams, a physical education teacher at Shannon Elementary, recently became foster parents, adding a 14-year-old foster daughter to their family. She joins their 9-year-old and 18-year-old daughters.
“I feel like I’m giving back to our community,” Williams said.
THESE TEACHERS were selected by their
schools as teachers of the year:
Leigh Ann Newton, Guntown Middle; Mathinee
Spencer, Mooreville Elementary ; Lisa
Tally, Mooreville High; Jennifer Tharp,
Mooreville Middle; Joan Stiles, Plantersville
Middle; Regina Sumner, Saltillo Elementary;
William “Teb” Thornton Jr., Saltillo
High; Candace Cherry, Saltillo Primary ;
Sonya Williams, Shannon Elementary; Patricia
Griffin, Shannon High; Melvin Morgan,
Shannon Middle; Christie Smith,
Shannon Primary; and Raleigh Bass,