Natchez-Adams School District parent of the year enjoys giving back

Published 12:03 am Sunday, April 3, 2016

Natchez-Adams School District Parent of the Year Sonya Brown cares about each of her children, just don’t let her hear that one of them has been acting up.

Brown has been known to sit through an entire class to make sure a behavior problem isn’t preventing a teacher from delivering his or her lesson plan. And it’s not just her biological child, Joshua Harvey, who gets that type of treatment. Her “parenting” goes for each and every member of the Natchez High School band, of which her son is a member.

“I have compassion for all children,” Brown said. “I taught school for six years and coached basketball for five.

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“I can get on their level, but I can also have them respect me at the same time.”

Senior drum major Mar’kaja Ramirez, 18, wasn’t surprised when she heard Brown had won the district’s Parent of the Year award.

“It could not have been anybody else — she really works her butt off for us, 24/7,” Ramirez said, adding Brown is at every game and even rides the bus with them.

“We are all very appreciative. Not a lot of parents take as much time out for us as she does.”

As for her biological son, Harvey, 16, he said he’s not embarrassed having mom around.

“It’s exciting when she comes here,” he said. “She keeps smiles on everyone’s faces.

“She relates to us and really takes the time to understand and care about what’s going on.”

Like Ramirez, Harvey couldn’t be more happy about the honor Brown received.

“It was special,” he said. “I know how hard she works doing this as a single parent.

“I’m so proud of her, very proud.”

A Natchez native, Brown said she deeply loves Natchez. She graduated from Natchez High School in 1993, when she was the point guard on the state championship basketball team.

“I care about the community as a whole,” Brown said. “For Natchez to be on top, the priority has to be on keeping its children and education on the map.”

Watching a parent prioritizing so much of his or her time toward schooling has an impact on the child involved, Brown said.

“Not only in class, but outside of class I show that I care,” she said. “If they see that mom or dad care that much, then they think, ‘The least I can do is give back and do what I need to do as a student.’

“Dealing with high school students, you have to almost come at them in an indirect manner. They tend to respond better if you let them do most of the talking and you just listen.”

Brown is a lot more direct with her fellow parents. After meeting with them, she was able to increase parent participation in the booster club from 20 to 80 percent.

“I like to be positive — not focus on the negative like, ‘Your child is misbehaving at school,’” she said. “I like to tell them about how that child is excelling.

“Then when I ask them to volunteer, it is automatic because they see that I care about their child.”

Brown works at Batteaste Funeral Home, and she said having an employer who is flexible is vital because she spends so much time at school events.

She is president of the Band Booster Club, vice president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, volunteer parent of the Natchez-Adams Street Team, a member of the NAACP and the Natchez Business and Civic League and a Natchez alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority member.

“(My employers) understand that if I’m not at work, I am at Natchez High School caring for these kids,” she said. “All of my time is spent on work and here.”

And when she is home, the fun with the students from Natchez High School doesn’t stop.

“The kids from the program want to come over to my house — we have fun,” she said. “I’m grateful that their parents trust me with them.”

Brown said she couldn’t have done it without the other parents who were involved.

“I could not have done it alone,” she said. “I want to thank the other parents who helped me to get this award. It was very rewarding — everything I have implemented here is from the heart.”