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An elementary school boy sits in front of a computer in his special education school while holding up a page of autographs.



Meet Sunshine: Teacher

Meet Sunshine: Teacher

March 1 was Employee Appreciation Day! We are celebrating our team members all month long by sharing their stories. Meet Sunshine Russell, a Teacher at New Story Schools’ Athens campus, who loves to make a difference in her students’ lives while making learning fun!

What is your favorite thing about working here?

I love that everyone works as a team – I feel valued and supported. We all work together for the good of all our students! That is a good feeling!

What keeps you coming to work each day? 

My students and my colleagues are the reason why I come to work each day! I love that I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my students. I feel valued here and, to me, that is a critical part of my day! 

How do you make an impact on students’ lives? 

I always try and listen to them and meet them where they are. As educators, it is important that we understand our students’ needs and work hard to help them achieve their goals and get them ready for life beyond the classroom. 

Last year, we rolled out our BetterTogether guiding principles. Which one of our values resonates with you most personally and why? 

All of these principles resonate with me personally. However, the one I feel the most strongly about is collaborative because I know there are others with perhaps more experience than me, and I love to talk with other teachers and share ideas. I love that New Story gives us these opportunities on a regular basis! 

What does a “day in the life” look like for your role? 

A day in the life of our classroom is happy, busy, and fun with learning mixed in! My students and I work hard throughout the day, but we manage to have a good time while learning. For example, I integrate hands-on activities in almost everything we do, not only to cement the ideas for the students, but also to make learning fun!

Can you talk a little bit about your career trajectory and what led you to where you are now? 

Before I came to New Story, I was a Paraprofessional for 16 years at a public school. I decided to go back to school and finish my degree so I could become the teacher in the classroom. Once I finished my bachelor's degree, I saw a posting for a position here at New Story. I decided to take the plunge and apply. I am so happy I did! I interviewed for the position, but once I was offered the job, I got a little scared about leaving my “home” of 16 years. After discussions with my family, I decided to join the New Story team and I’ve never been happier! I have now finished my master's degree in special education! 

What has been your proudest moment or accomplishment in your role? 

My proudest accomplishment is the bond I have formed with one of my most difficult students. He has come so far in the past year since I’ve been working with him. I could not be more proud of him and his progress!

What is something about you that not many people know? 

Many people may not know that I tend to be a bit shy until you get to know me, and I rarely show my competitive side! 

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