Friday Q & A |

Friday Q & A

Post IndependentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Sonya Hemmen (photo taken by her daughter, Molly)

Sonya Hemmen has been principal at Glenwood Springs Elementary School since 2003, and was the assistant principal at Glenwood Springs High School for three years prior to that.Family: Husband Scott, daughter Molly (8) and our 6-month-old yellow lab, LiliHow long have you lived in Glenwood Springs?We moved to Gypsum in 1996 and then to Glenwood Springs in 2000. Fell in love with the area and the community. What a great place to live! It’s home.Where are you from originally?I was born in Fairmont, W.Va., and when I was 3, my family (mom, dad, older sister and older brother) moved to Phoenix, and that is where I resided until the move to the Western Slope of Colorado in 1996. My husband and I both really wanted to move to the mountains and we arrived here in August 1996 as newlyweds in search of the Colorado future we envisioned.What’s your education background?I have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature and Latin American studies, a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. I am a nationally certified principal mentor and have recently (and also luckily) been a part of the Roaring Fork Leadership program of the valley. I am bilingual and biliterate in Spanish and English; this comes in handy in my interactions with students and parents.Number of years in education?I have been in education my whole life, really; as a professional educator for 17 years.What did you do before you became a principal?I taught English as a second language, Spanish, citizenship, and basic GED. Some of this experience was elementary level and some secondary. I even taught adults in the evening. It’s not uncommon (as we know) for teachers to work two or three jobs, and that is what I did.How do you prepare for your day?I exercise in the morning so that I am ready to go! (Thank you to Cyndie Rippy, Suzy Malensek and Georgia Macdonell for the motivation.) Then I take my daughter to school (third grade) and head to the office. She has been a GSES Grizzly one year more than me … she started there as a 1-year-old in the Toddler Learning Center.What’s your fondest classroom memory?Eighth grade with Ms. Mischke. She paired us up with kindergarten kids so that we could mentor them. What I learned from this experience is that, very often (if we are lucky and pay attention) as teachers, we learn a lot. She also got me into soccer because she knew I needed it.Who was your favorite teacher growing up, and why?I was lucky to have some really strong teachers growing up. Too many to mention, but the one quality they all had in common was empathy. Those were and still are the teachers that make a difference for kids.Other community involvement: Good Shephard Lutheran Church; Community Center Rec League Hockey (Go American National Bank and Ice Queens!); annual MS Walk volunteer recruiting; lots of GSES event coordination outside of school hours (home visits/parent nights/PIE meetings)Favorite food: Pan seared scallops from Florindo’s with some pasta.Favorite book: Professional – “Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham (field guide to using one’s strengths to lead personnel); Personal – “Rain of Gold” by Victor Villaseor (a wonderful novel about a family overcoming adversity).Favorite movie: “Miracle on Ice” (true story of coach Herb Brooks who coached the U.S. Men’s Hockey team to victory over the Russians).

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