In her role as Interim Assistant Dean of Adjunct Faculty Support at College of DuPage, Sonia Watson most enjoys helping others perfect their craft.
"When I first started teaching, I felt thrown to the wolves," she said. "I was given a textbook and a roster and it was sink or swim. I've made it my goal to make sure others don't feel the way I did.
"I take great pride in supporting adjunct faculty at COD with anything I can. It is wonderful connecting with them and learning about their teaching, their lives and their families. I love hearing their stories, helping them make connections with others, and seeing their faces light up when they talk about the great things they are doing in their classrooms."
Watson did not set out to have a career in education. She worked in the corporate world for several years in business, sales and training before shifting to teaching, starting with middle school and then high school. While teaching high school, she also worked as an adjunct for dual credit and dual enrollment as well as trained educators for the Orange County Public School System, Seminole County School System, Valencia College and University of Central Florida.
"Once I began teaching in higher education, I knew that was my best fit," she said. "I loved the opportunity to share my passion for helping and teaching others, being a positive inspiration, providing leadership and fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion in the classroom."
Her work with adjunct faculty at COD includes providing comprehensive professional development focused on best-practice teaching strategies, increasing student success and engagement, and reducing student withdrawal rates.
Dedicated to improving her own craft, Watson is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Organizational Development at Benedictine University. Her inspiration to grow and develop her skills comes from her mother.
"As the daughter of an immigrant, I know the struggles she had when she came to this country," Watson said. "I think of what she went through as a student and throughout my teaching career, I have kept her in my thoughts. I aim to be the person my mom needed but never had as a teacher or role model. My work ethic, my servant leadership style and the person I am are all because of her. She is my reminder that I stand on the shoulders of great women who fought for the right to be in this country, the right for me to have an education and to never forget my roots. My dad taught me the importance of getting an education and to always strive for more. He is the one I always ran to when I needed support and is definitely my biggest fan.”
Watson said that while she is dedicated to supporting adjunct faculty members, her dedication arises from a commitment to student success.
"Adjuncts are my direct line to our students," she said. "If I can help adjunct faculty with a different technique or share what has worked for me in my teaching over the last 20 years, I know together we can make a difference in student retention and student success."