Wake County Assistant Principal of the Year Monica Sawyer ‘99: ‘Being Able to Partner with the Largest School District in the State for Observations and Student Teaching Experiences is an Asset that Most Other Education Programs Cannot Offer’

Monica Sawyer

From the time Monica Sawyer ‘99 was in fifth grade, she was attending NC State basketball games and watching Coach Jim Valvano (Jimmy V) on the sidelines. That’s when she knew she wanted to attend NC State. And knowing she wanted to be a teacher, it was the perfect fit.

About Monica Sawyer

Hometown(s): Creswell, North Carolina, and Smithfield, North Carolina

Role: Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning, William G. Enloe Magnet High School

Education: Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing Education, NC State College of Education

Why She Chose Education: “I played school with my Cabbage Patch Kids from the time I was in kindergarten. One year, I asked for a chalkboard for Christmas so I could really teach. And I’d ask my mom to take me to the office supply store to get any teacher supplies they had (including one of the old EZ-Graders). I guess it’s just always been in my blood to be a teacher.”

Her Advice to Aspiring Educators: “If you’re thinking about going into education, be sure it’s for the right reasons. It should always be about doing what is best for students.”

But when she graduated from the NC State College of Education with her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing education, Sawyer landed a marketing job where her love for NC State began — in the NC State Athletics Department.

That experience turned out to be the launching pad for her education career. She ultimately left NC State to teach business and marketing courses in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS).

“Being able to bring my real-world marketing experience into the classroom allowed me to create more meaningful relationships with my students and helped me to develop leadership skills needed to move into administration,” she said.

Today, Sawyer is the assistant principal of teaching and learning at William G. Enloe Magnet High School, in Raleigh, where she has served since August 2015. She’s also the 2020-21 Wake County Public Schools’ Assistant Principal of the Year.

“I am so honored to represent all assistant principals in WCPSS this year. We are all doing things right now that we definitely didn’t go to college to do and to be recognized for those efforts and the work I’ve done throughout my five years as an administrator at Enloe is very humbling and rewarding,” she said. “I’m so appreciative of this opportunity to represent WCPSS as the Assistant Principal of the Year this year.”

As a high school student, Sawyer worked as an office assistant in her school, and it was through that experience that she was inspired to go into school administration. Seeing what her high school principals did every day, she knew she wanted to do that one day. “I even told my principal my senior year that I was going to have her job one day,” she said.

She credits her experience in NC State’s College of Education for preparing her to be the educator and administrator she is today. The business and marketing education program was a smaller program that allowed the students to work closely with each other and the advisor.

“The College of Education at NC State was the best experience for me because it allowed me to work so closely with the adults and educators in my program area and meet teachers within the WCPSS school while still in college,” she said.

Sawyer says College of Education students were able to partner with all of the marketing teachers in the area, which wasn’t that many, and visited their classrooms frequently to gain the hands-on experience they needed for student teaching and ultimately a teaching position.

“I learned so much from each of them and still keep in contact with many of them now. I definitely remember teaching my first classes very similarly to how my cooperating teacher taught at Broughton High School,” Sawyer said.

“Being able to partner with the largest school district in the state for observations and student teaching experiences is an asset that most other education programs cannot offer.”