Nominated by fellow teacher, Melody McMaster:

Sonya Haworth is an incredible instructional assistant! She truly makes such a positive difference in the lives of our students at Gaston Elementary School. It is so nice to work with Sonya who takes the initiative to gets things done without being asked but also has the ability to follow directions when necessary. Sonya has a great rapport with students, staff and parents, and she makes working with her a pleasure. She has a great amount of patience, respect and caring for all students. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm. Sonya instills confidence in students so that they are able to believe in themselves. Sonya always strives to have a solid knowledge base of the needs of her students and how to best advocate for each and every one of them. She is always willing to put in the extra effort. She willingly volunteers at after school events such as the carnival and science/art fair. Sonya makes it obvious that she loves what she does and because of that Gaston Elementary students and staff truly benefit. She definitely deserves to be the K103 Educator of the Week.

Congratulations Sonya, from all of us at K103!

What inspired you to become an educator?

To be honest, I didn't have the teaching bug until I had my own son. He was very much a lover of books, so we spent many hours reading. At that point, I realized the joy of teaching. I began volunteering at his school, and that soon turned into a permanent position. From that time on, I knew I wanted to try to make a difference for all children.

What do you like most about teaching?

The best part about teaching has to be watching the children's growth, academically and socially. Working in a kindergarten class allows me to be a part of teaching the students to read their first word, write their first sentence, or add their first math problem. The smiles and excitement that I see every day when they learn something new brings such joy to my life.

What has changed the most since you began your career in education?

Since this is my nineteenth year of working in the school system, the obvious answer would be technology. But, I'm going to say the one thing I have noticed the most is the baggage that the students bring to school with them. Some are hungry, some are living in abusive homes, some are homeless or are living with friends or family. I have seen broken families, poverty, no water or electricity in their homes, not enough clean clothes or shoes. There are so many kids being raised by their grandparents, foster care, adopted families, or aunts and uncles. Some students have drug addicted parents and are taking care of their own needs on a daily bases. I can't even begin to touch on all the issues the children have and are still expected to put all that aside and focus on school. It is my goal in life to make every student feel accepted and safe while they are at school. They need to know that someone cares about them and that they have someone to trust during the short span of time that we have them.

What would you like parents to know about your job?

I would like parents to know that I love my job every day. I come in with a smile and I leave with a smile. Working in the kindergarten class this year has been such a joy. Every one of our kids are kind, compassionate, giving, and so fun to be around. As a parent, I have always believed that parents and teachers are partners in the education process. As an assistant, I see every day that the student whose parents are working with them continue to excel in their education.

Share a favorite story about your years in education.

I have so many wonderful stories about working in education. One that comes to mind is about a little boy that started kindergarten years ago. He was being raised by his grandmother, and she brought him to school every day. This little guy would come down the walkway crying and refusing to go to school. I stood on the walkway every morning and greeted him. It broke my heart to see him so sad. I would talk to him every morning and he would calm down and go to class. This happened for what seemed like the entire year. I also had him in my computer class, so that was comforting to him. For that entire year and many years later, his grandmother would tell me how much I helped him and how much he liked me. I have many, many cards and gifts of appreciation from them both. I care so deeply for the students that I have worked with and it is important to me that they know it.