2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Dr. Sonya Willis

Washington High School, 1979Dr. Sonya Willis

Education is Sonya Willis' life. She can't imagine doing anything else.

"My life is about getting kids to realize the greatness of their lives," she said. "That's why I'm on this earth."

She believes education unlocks the door to the future. And she sets a fine example in this arena.

Willis has five degrees: a bachelor of science in journalism, a bachelor of arts in education, an education specialist degree in administration, a master's in multicultural education, and a doctorate in education.

She has been working in the field of education as a teacher and an administrator for the past 12 years, including 10 with the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. She currently is working as the associate principal at Shawnee Mission North High School.

She said the highlight of her career was working on the same staff with two of her former Washington High School teachers during her first teaching assignment at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science. Both of these teachers taught her a love of learning and gave her reasons to believe in herself, she said. She was humbled to call them her colleagues.

Growing up, Willis' parents always stressed to her the value of education and her mom, a 41 year veteran of the Kansas City, Kansas school district, and a long-time Board of Education member and president, served as a role model. Her late father gave her constant inspiration and support. His advice still flows through her mind, and she hopes her achievements have made him proud.

Willis' advice for today's students is to have a sense of purpose. "Believe that your life has direction and start moving in that direction," she said. She tells her students, "Don't be afraid to step into your greatness."