Thank you, Sonya

Written for my dear friend Sonya-Gunnings Moton, on her retirement from the College of Education at Michigan State University.

Dear Sonya, wishing you all the very best on your retirement. Just want to say how much I have valued having you as a friend and colleague during my stay at MSU. And yes, I totally need to pay you for all the cigarettes I bummed off you during the conversations we had in the “smoking” space in Erickson Hall. All worth it, because it led to one of the most amazing projects I have been part of—the MSU Urban-STEM project. These photos cannot capture just how transformative this project was: 125 teachers working in Chicago Public Schools working with the most awesome instructional and support team ever. We made it happen. A genuine, meaningful and transformative partnership at so many levels. 

Sonya, it has been my privilege to have worked with you over the years. I have learned so much from you, your strength, moral clarity, passion and commitment to education. And most of all, you confirmed something I sort of knew already—that we can be ultra-serious about the work we do, but that does not mean that we need to take ourselves too seriously. You cut through the academic bullshit to focus on what was truly important. You reminded me everyday that one can laugh and have fun even while being passionate and totally committed to the work.

I miss your irreverence, laughter, passion and commitment. You made my world, and that of everyone else who came in touch with you, a better place. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I am a better person for having known you. I wish you all the very best and I do hope our paths will cross in the near future.


    1. Dr. Gunnings-Moton,

      My name is Yolanda Hood (when I met you I was Yolanda Jackson at Holmes Middle School in Flint, MI under the leadership of Cheryl Adkins).

      I have been trying to follow you and your great work ever since you worked with us during an amazing professional development and when you honored me the chance to listen to and speak with Pedro Noguera during a session at MSU.

      As Dr. Angelou said, “People may not remember what you said or did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel”. I’ll never forgot those two moments. Meeting and “sitting at your feet” helped to increase my drive for being a responsible and intentional culturally proficient Teacher-Leader.

      Thank you for what you’ve done in education in Michigan. It is to be commended. I’m interested in knowing what new things are you involved in as an independent consultant and work at MSU. I’m leaving my info here and hope to be able to connect with you.

      Congrats on your retirement and best wishes!
      – Yolanda Hood, Ed.S

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