Sonja Zonetta McLean Williams, a native of Jacksonville, NC, received her formal education in Onslow County. She attended North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. She further studied and received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music in New York, NY. While in New York, she performed with the Opera Ensemble of New York.
Mrs. Williams has over 29 years of collegiate and intermediate school teaching experience. She began her teaching career as a visiting instructor at North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC before returning to Onslow County to teach K-5 General Music at Richlands Elementary School. During that time, she received her K-12 Music Certification from East Carolina University, and served as an adjunct instructor for Campbell University for fourteen years. In addition, she taught choral music and Music Appreciation at the middle school level.
Mrs. Williams was named 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 before being named the 2013 – 2014 Onslow County Teacher of the Year. She served as a Mentor and Clinical Teacher for over fifteen years. Mrs. Williams’ students consistently received Superior ratings at the North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) sponsored District Choral Music Performance Adjudications. Other accolades include participation in the NC Honors and All-State choruses, an invitation to perform at the NCMEA In-Service Conference in 2000, and participation in the National Anthem Project in 2007, held in Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Williams has held many leadership positions within NCMEA, including Middle School Choral Section Member-at-Large, Chair-Elect, Chair, and currently an Adjudicator. In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors as Member-at-Large and Scholarship Chair. Mrs. Williams is a Past President of the North Carolina Music Educators Association. As a Governor’s School alumna in Choral Music, she currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Foundation.
Since 1991, Mrs. Williams has been a member of the local chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., where she has served as President, Vice-President, and Secretary. As the Minister of Music at St. Julia A.M.E. Zion Church for the last fifteen years, Mrs. Williams has also presented workshops on church hymns, entitled “The Church Sings Again.” She continues to perform and has conducted All-County choruses throughout the state.
Mrs. Williams retired from education in June 2016. She is married to Dr. Gregory J. Williams, a mother of two adult sons, and a grandmother. She enjoys visiting her family, running, and teaching group fitness classes as a certified cycling and group fitness instructor.