Local teacher makes children's day

By Ilona Hanne

Stratford local, Sonia Rova (nee Candy) was recognised last week as being one of 10 recipients across the country of the "a day made better" teacher's award.

The award is based on an American one, designed to recognise teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty in their classroom.

"She's always cheerful," says 9-year-old Emma Reumers of Sonia. "She helps us learn in the most enjoyable ways," adds another student, Emma MacArthur, also 9.

Both of these girls would know - they are students in Room 1 at St Patrick's school in Inglewood, where Sonia brings learning to life on a daily basis.

The students tell of a year spent hatching chickens, having the TET rescue helicopter visit their class, tractor rides, seeing cows being milked, having a piglet in class and making banana smoothies.

It is not just the students who appreciate Sonia's teaching style and her passion for her job; she was nominated for the award by the school principal, Kim Theyers, who says, "Sonia is a hardworking, dedicated teacher who really cares about the kids in her class.

She goes above the call of duty for children, making sure they are well fed, feeling safe and secure and able to learn."

As well as organising amazing learning experiences for the children, Sonia has been involved in providing support and help to one local family whose child was diagnosed with cancer.

Kim says, "Sonia made connections with the family, organised donation tins to be placed around the community ... and was available for Mum to lean on in times of need."

Sonia trained as a teacher straight from university. "I was always destined to be a teacher, I was one of those kids calling a roll to my teddies from about age 6 upwards."

She then taught at Avon Primary, before going overseas to teach in London and then in Fiji. After marrying her husband George in Fiji, Sonia worked one day a week at St Patrick's and continued working there in a relieving position in between having her three children.

Sonia had no idea that she had been nominated for the award and says she was "incredibly surprised" to receive it. She says she has told her class, "This award is not about me, it is about us, collectively we won."

The best thing about teaching, according to Sonia, is that "no day is ever the same, you get to create motivation and learning and witness the 'lightbulb' moment when things click for the individual child". She is modest about the award, saying, "It is not just about the teacher, it is about working in a team, with colleagues, students, family and the wider community."

- Stratford Press

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