TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Sonya Gooden making a difference one student at a time

Published 8:22 am Monday, February 5, 2024

Sonya Gooden is a teacher at Warren Central Intermediate, where she teaches fourth grade mathematics and science.

When asked how she engages her students in learning, she related a story about her reluctance to teach fractions and mixed numbers to her students, not because she felt they were not ready but because these skills intimidated her. She opened up to her students about her reluctance to pursue this topic.

“In approaching a subject that was intimidating to both my students and myself, I demonstrated the importance of resilience, open-mindedness to new ideas and the pursuit of excellence,” Gooden explained.

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Gooden was asked how she ensures her students are connected to the world around them and shared that she regularly infuses realworld relevance into mathematical lessons. Word problems serve as a cornerstone in this approach, she said.

Collaborative learning is also a key strategy that incorporates real-world learning.

“When students work together they are not only learning a math skill, but they are learning problem-solving skills that will be applicable far beyond the classroom,” Gooden explained.

Finally, she explained that when students embrace technology, her classes can then participate in virtual field trips that help broaden students’ perspectives and expose them to the diverse outside world.

When asked what she does to drive student achievement, Gooden said that she uses a multifaceted approach, ranging from formative assessment to progress monitoring.

“This comprehensive strategy is designed to address the diverse needs of students and their diverse learning styles,” Gooden said.

Gooden expressed that her most moving educational experience was, “the profound impact of building strong, supportive relationships with my students.”

She said she firmly believes in fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment for her students.

Sonya Gooden is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year.

The Chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the February Luncheon.

The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receiver $5000 from Mutual Credit Union.

When asked why she chose to teach, Gooden said, “I want to make a difference in someone’s life.”