2021 Annual Appeal Ambassador: Sonji Byers-Baldwin

Mountaineer Montessori began its 45th year of excellence and innovation in education this fall.

While many things have changed over the years–including program expansions and a new campus–our mission remains the same: creating a better tomorrow through service to the child today.

Founded in 1976, Mountaineer Montessori is West Virginia’s original and largest Montessori school, offering a premier, child-centered educational experience to 178 students ages Toddler-Middle School right here in the heart of Appalachia.

“Creating the Future, One Child at a Time,” the 2021 MMS Annual Appeal, provides essential funding that enables us to lead, adapt and meet the growing demand for superior academic options in our community and inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers, problem solvers, community builders and visionary leaders.

Text mmsfuture to 76278 or visit the campaign platform to give now

As a part of the campaign, MMS students, families, teachers and alumni are sharing their Montessori stories and the impact they’ve had on their lives.

This is Sonji Byers-Baldwin’s MMS story:


Sonji Baldwin-Byers, Lower Elementary I Assistant. 


What makes MMS special to you? 

I love the sense of community and the love for our environment. 


What is the best part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is working with the students. It’s rewarding to be a part of their learning development. 


Any favorite “Montessori Moments” from your time here?

One of my favorite moments was performing for the MMS Gala. I am in awe of the talent that lies within the school community. I hope to perform with Alasha Al-Qudwah and Ray Singleton in the future. 


Sonji, you worked at the St. Agnes School for many years. How does it feel to see the building still in use and full of children? 

I think working in my old stomping grounds helped me with this transition.  Saint Agnes will always be dear to my heart. I am looking forward to creating new memories in this school. The campus here is so beautiful. I’m glad I can witness the joy it brings to the children. The staff has created a warm and beautiful environment for the students to enjoy. I’m also glad that two of my Saint Agnes friends, John Elswick and Sara Lloyd, are here to enjoy it, as well. 


The theme of this year’s campaign is “Creating the Future, One Child at a Time.” What are your hopes for your students’ future?

I hope that the children in our class remember that Tara (Fought) and I want the best for them. We will do our best to make sure beautiful memories and great learning experiences were developed here.  I would love for them to look back and say, ‘Mountaineer Montessori teachers gave me the foundation to excel in my education–and life.’” 

Tell us about your life outside of school:

Singing is one of my many passions. I started my musical background singing in our church choir. When I started middle school I performed for All-State and All-County Chorus. In high school, I was in the show choir at Dunbar Senior High School. I was picked for Who’s Who in American Music my senior year of high school. I was also named soloist of the year. In my adulthood, I’ve sung at CBGB’s in New York. The world-famous Roxy, and Club Cheetah (Jay-Z’s), and various venues in New York. I also had the pleasure of singing the National Anthem on ESPN. I can say I’ve had a blessed life. My husband and family are my biggest fans. I have three talented children that blessed me with my beautiful grandchildren. Being a grandmother is my favorite title so far. 


Any other things you wish to share?

I want to thank Tara and Jennifer Carriger for giving me the opportunity to work here.  I had no prior knowledge of Montessori education.  I’ve learned so much from Tara and my coworkers. They welcomed me with open arms and for that, I will be forever grateful.  Thank you for choosing me to be a part of the campaign this year. 


We invite you to create the future with Sonji with your gift today…. text mmsfuture to 76278 or visit our campaign platform to give now.