Elementary Special Education Teacher, Honiss School
Morghan Sonzogni did not always know that she wanted to be a teacher. As a student in elementary school, she envisioned becoming a doctor in the emergency room. However, high school changed Morghan’s career aspirations.
“As years passed, I found myself in high school seriously considering the career route I wanted to pursue. I thought back on my life and realized that the people who helped me the most in my life aside from my family were all of my amazing teachers!” Morghan says.
Morghan attended St. Thomas Aquinas College at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the School of Education. As an undergraduate student, she studied Elementary Education with a concentration in English. She graduated cum laude in 2017 with her bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education. Morgan furthered her studies at her alma mater and graduated in 2018 with her Master’s degree in Elementary Special Education. She holds certifications to teach students from kindergarten to sixth grade, including students with disabilities.
“I chose St. Thomas Aquinas College because I fell in love with the Education Program. I enjoyed having the 5 year accelerated Master’s program as an option, and am overjoyed that I was able to take part in it,” Morghan says.
Although Morghan’s own teachers have had a profound impact on her, she has seen the effects that teachers have on students with disabilities which served as a catalyst for her studies, experiences, and current responsibilities.
“I decided to explore the route of teaching Special Education after being influenced by family friends that were diagnosed with disabilities at an early age,” Morghan says, “Watching the difference their educators made in their lives was something that I wanted to be able to recreate with my students.”
Morghan delved into working with students of various needs as a STAC student. She completed her field experience at Blue Rock School in West Nyack, Lovell J. Honiss School in Dumont, Harrington Park Elementary School in Harrington Park, Upper Nyack Elementary School in Upper Nyack, and Grant School in Dumont. She then served as a student teacher at Grant School, learning from special education teachers and tailoring her instruction to the needs of each student in the third grade class.
Besides her field work, Morghan volunteered her time to help students with disabilities at One to One Learning in Nyack with their homework assignments. She even served as a leader advocating for people with disabilities. Morghan occupied the positions of Southern State Representative and Co-President of the New York State Council for Exceptional Children’s Student Strand as well as Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Rockland Chapter #1229.
Atop all of this, Morghan was involved in a plethora of extracurricular activities at STAC. She served as the Vice President of Administration of STAC’s Student Government Association (SGA). Her leadership both on and off campus earned her multiple honors, including the Outstanding Campus Leader Award, Mission Award, and Gold Key Service Award. She was also a member of the Sigma Delta Tau National Honor Society as well as the Kappa Delta Phi National Honor Society. Morghan even introduced the chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) to the College with STAC’s Professor of Teacher Education and Director of Graduate Education, Dr. Elizabeth Finnegan.
Morghan continues her advocacy work by serving on the NJ Council for Exceptional Children’s Policy and Advocacy group alongside her mentor, Dr. Finnegan.
“We support legislation and funding to improve learning outcomes for New Jersey students, especially those with exceptionalities. Without Dr. Finnegan’s constant support and advice, I would not be the educator I am today,” Morghan says.
Dr. Finnegan has been impressed with Morghan as a student and remains proud of her current endeavors.
“Morghan has always risen to every challenge and opportunity placed before her. As President of the New York State student chapter of Council for Exceptional Children, she represented STAC among representatives from much larger colleges. She continues to advocate for the needs of students with disabilities with her colleagues in the teaching profession, taking what she has learned at STAC about collaboration to her volunteer work which includes meeting congressional representatives, and state senators,” Dr. Finnegan says.
Now, Morghan is an elementary special education teacher at Honiss School in Dumont. She teaches students with disabilities both in small groups in the resource room as well as in the mainstream classroom. For Morghan, there is not just one favorite component to her job. Rather, it is a series of moments.
“There are many rewarding moments in teaching. I find rewarding moments in each day, as my students learn and grow. I love to watch students finally have that ‘lightbulb’ moment, where the pieces of the puzzle come together and everything makes sense,” Morghan says, “Those are the best moments as a teacher.”