The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High
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Courtesy of Sonya McGowin

Sitting in her at-home office, Spanish teacher Sonya McGowin prepares to converse with her students. After teaching middle school students for 13 years, McGowin adjusted to teaching at a higher level. “It doesn’t feel that different, except for the difference of virtual learning,” McGowin said. “High school students are more focused, [and] the course is more challenging.”

Sonya McGowin

Sonya McGowin, Spanish

When she learned about a higher level teaching position, Spanish teacher Sonya McGowin applied, got hired and transferred from Parkway Central Middle School to teach high school for the first time. 

“I decided that it would be nice to try it because I thought it’d be like a new adventure teaching older students,” McGowin said. “It’s high school students so they can use their Spanish a lot more, because they have had more time.”

Although virtual school has been a struggle, McGowin still seeks to build student connections through speaking Spanish.

“My favorite part of my job is just being able to work with my [students] every day, I just enjoy interacting with people. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” McGowin said.

The largest challenge for her is finding ways for students to practice speaking skills in a virtual format. 

“A lot of the curriculum that we have is talking. We talk about ourselves a lot. [We have] daily questions [at] the beginning of the hour, so I can interact with them somehow,” McGowin said. “I’ll ask the question to the class or I’ll have them ask the questions and I take notes so I know what their interests are. It’s kind of hard, and it doesn’t feel at all like what it feels like in the classroom. It’s definitely not easy.” 

Outside of work, McGowin explores her interests in nature and medicine.

“I make medicine, with my family and friends, out of wild plants. So, that’s my interest, when I retire I think I will probably do that full time,” McGowin said. “The medicines I make are salves, tinctures, infused oils and tea blends, [made] from mostly weeds.”

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