Dr. Sonji Barnes…advocate, servant and global leader in education, for over 25 years. She is a business professional, administrator, and intentionally focused educator, who believes that we should “show up prepared to do the work we were placed here to do''. She credits her passion and love as an educator to her upbringing during her early childhood experience as a kindergartener attending the Montessori School, which was housed on the rich soil and deep roots of Tuskegee Institute/Tuskegee University, in her beloved hometown, Tuskegee, Alabama.
Dr. Barnes’ globally infused portfolio is filled with an exciting repertoire of work and life experiences. In addition to working in underprivileged and privatized school systems, she has been afforded the grace to serve in three of the Top 10 highest enrolled public, urban and culturally enriched school districts in the United States: Miami-Dade, Broward County and Chicago Public School Districts.
Dr. Barnes has also had the pleasure to teach students from over 30 nationalities, as an Adjunct Professor/Instructor at Loyola University-Chicago, Robert Morris University, City Colleges of Chicago, Advanced Software Analysis College (Miami, FL), Computer Systems Institute, UNIBE-Universidad Iberoamericana (Punta Cana, DR) and Northwestern University-Evanston and Chicago campus. She studied at the world renowned University of Fundacao Getulio Vargas, as an international scholar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she also taught English as a Second Language to native Portuguese speakers.
Dr. Barnes earned her PhD in Education: Curriculum and Instruction (University of Illinois at Chicago) a Master of Education in Counseling and Student Development and Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing (Tuskegee University); and earned her third graduate degree, an MS in Early Childhood Education: Leadership and Advocacy (Erikson Institute).
Her research interests include a call to action and equity in public education, public health, children’s advocacy and mental health awareness in ECE, with topics such as: The importance of play and family time in children 0-8 years old; An in-depth look at the disparities of why the highest percentages of maternal morbidity and mortality rates are in our underserved communities; Bridging the learning gap from school to home in ECE; The importance of why vision and hearing screenings in ECE are necessary to enhancing a child’s learning experience in urban school settings; Literacy and language development in preschool age children; Helping parents bond with their early learners during and after a global pandemic; and Are we missing the signs? Poor mental health in infants and early learners.
Her devotion to children’s learning, love for her craft, and passion for action based research is why she “shows up prepared to do the work…” as a diverse, equitable, inclusive and enthusiastic Educator!
In her spare time, Dr. Barnes is a volunteer and participant in various marathons around Chicago. She enjoys spending time with her love squads: wonderful husband, amazing son, brilliant parents, supportive family and cherished circle of sister friends. She is a world traveler and resides in Chicago.