It’s safe to say that we have all experienced at least one inspirational teacher who helped us understand their subject more and taught us to become a better person. The best teachers pass on this burning enthusiasm to their students, inspiring students to view the subject through refreshed lenses and to see things from a different perspective. Mrs. Sonya Rountree was chosen by Twin City Elementary as their Teacher of the Year. When asked as a teacher and student representative what message she would communicate to her profession, Mrs. Rountree stated, “The teaching profession is one of ups and downs, lots of hard work, worry, and overall fatigue, but it is also one of the most fulfilling and humbling adventures one will ever experience. The students that come to my classroom are special. They were sent to me with a purpose, and it is my aspiration to make a personal connection with each of them. In no time at all, they are referred to as “my babies.” The love for each of them grows from there. The joy of educating them begins with loving them.” Quoting Aristotle, she said, ‘“Educating the mind without educating the heart is not education at all.”
Sonya is married to Darrell Rountree and they have two daughters, Anna Wilson and Camryn Rountree. They also have two grandchildren, Hunt and Henley. Sonya enjoys spending time with her family, drinking coffee and working in her flower gardens. Mrs. Rountree graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1992 and began her teaching career in Emanuel County in August of that same year. Her teaching career first began at Swainsboro Primary School where she was a first-grade teacher. Three years after that, Sonya transferred to Twin City Elementary where she taught Pre-K three years before moving to a Kindergarten position and has been a Kindergarten teacher at TCE since then. This is her 32nd year as an educator. Sonya obtained her Master’s Degree in 2004 from Troy University. She has always loved children and that’s what inspired her to want to work with them every day. Sonya knew at an early age that she was drawn towards early childhood education. She says she can’t see herself doing anything else and makes every effort to be the best teacher that she can be because that’s what her students deserve each and every day. Sonya stated that she does, however, hope that she made a lasting impression on at least one of the children that she has taught throughout the years. “TCE is and always has been a special place. Lots of great things happen there and we as a staff are all like one big family. We celebrate with each other, support each other and also pray for one another. I truly have been blessed to be a part of TCE for all of these years,” stated Mrs. Rountree.
Now that you’ve met the teacher and read her story, read her Q/A’s below to further understand Sonya Rountree’s incredible values of teaching and how she’s changing and inspiring young lives in our community.
What have you found most rewarding in your career?
Rountree: The most rewarding thing for me as a teacher is watching the transformation that my students make from non-readers to fluent readers. When the spark is ignited, the results are magical. It gets me every time!
Do you feel that each of your students have left a lasting impression on you?
Rountree: I feel that each of my students in their own way has made me who I am today. I have learned so much from them.
What advice would you like to give to new or upcoming educators?
Rountree: My advice to future educators is simple. If you don’t absolutely love children and want to commit totally to their success, find another career choice.
How does it make you feel to see the success that many of your previous students have become?
Rountree: Seeing my previous students lead successful lives and make something of themselves fills me with joy. I am so proud of them all and thankful that I have been around long enough to see their successes.
If you could tell your past students or future students one thing that you hope will stick with them all throughout life, what would that be?
Rountree: If I could send a message to both past and future students it would be to hold on to Jesus. With Him, all things are possible, and He will guide you through everything life sends your way!
What’s a favorite memory or some of your favorite memories that you have from your time as an educator?
Rountree: I have many, many favorite memories from my career as an educator. If I had written them all down, I could have had a book by now. Each day brings new memories, and I will cherish them always!