Sonja Zonetta McLean Williams, a native of Jacksonville, NC, received her education in Onslow County. She continued her studies at North Carolina School of the Arts, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Mrs. Williams studied with Ms. Betty Allen, Executive Director of Harlem School of the Arts. After leaving NCSA, Mrs. Williams went to New York and received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music. While in New York, she performed with the Opera Ensemble of New York in their production of Four Saints in Three Acts.
She returned to North Carolina and began her first teaching job in the Music Department at North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC. She married and went back to Onslow County, where she taught K-5 General Music at Richlands Elementary School for two years. She received her K-12 Music Certification from East Carolina University during that time.
Mrs. Williams was also an adjunct instructor for Campbell University for fourteen years. A position became available at Jacksonville Middle School where she taught choral music and Music Appreciation. The school was closed in 1997 and Mrs. Williams started the choral program at Jacksonville Commons Middle School, where she currently teaches chorus and General Music.
Mrs. Williams has been recognized by her peers as Teacher of the Year three times: once at Jacksonville Middle School and twice at Jacksonville Commons Middle School. She was a semi-finalist and finalist at the County level. She was named the 2013 – 2014 Onslow County Teacher of the Year. She has been a Mentor and is a Clinical Teacher. Mrs. Williams’ students have consistently received Superior ratings at the North Carolina Music Educators (NCMEA) sponsored District Choral Music Performance Adjudications. They have been selected to participate in the NC Honors and All-State choruses. They were invited and performed at the NCMEA In-Service Conference in 2000. Her students participated in the National Anthem Project in 2007, held in Washington, DC.
She has served the NCMEA Middle School Choral Section as Member-at-Large, Chair-Elect, Chair, Solo/Small Ensemble/Large Choral Festival Adjudicator. She has also served on the NCMEA Board of Directors as Member-at-Large and Scholarship Chair. Mrs. Williams is a Past President of the North Carolina Music Educators Association.
In the community, she is a member of the local chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a community-conscious, action-oriented organization. She also serves as the Minister of Music at St. Julia A.M.E. Zion Church. Mrs. Williams has presented workshops on hymns of the church, entitled “The Church Sings Again.” She continues to perform and has conducted All-County choruses in Craven, Cumberland, Wayne, Edgecombe, Cabarrus, Johnston, Wilkes, Granville, and Wilson counties.
Mrs. Williams recently retired after almost 30 years of teaching. She is married, a mother of two, and a grandmother. When she is not visiting her family or involved in music, she enjoys running!