Sandra Renea Sessoms was born on September 12, 1956 to Ernest and Margaret Sessoms in East Orange, New Jersey. She was the fourth of six children. Her father, Ernest and siblings Stephen and Sharon preceded her in death.
Sandra received her early years of schooling in East Orange and her middle and high school years in Ahoskie, North Carolina when her family moved there from New Jersey. She came to Atlanta to attend the prestigious Spelman College, a private historically black women’s liberal college. This was the beginning of her lifelong journey of learning and teaching. She graduated from Spelman in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child Development. She worked in that field for a few years until she decided to go back to school. In 1981, she earned a Master of Education from Georgia State University with a major in Speech Pathology.
She landed a job with the Atlanta Public Schools as a speech pathologist at Price High School. Sandra discovered her love and gift for working with young people. She wanted an opportunity to touch as many students as she could so becoming a classroom teacher became her goal. To this end, Sandra went back to school and earned a Specialist in Education in Reading Instruction from Georgia State University in 1983. She was able to move into a classroom position, teaching reading and language arts at Price when it became a middle school.
Many students crossed her path. She was much more than just a teacher to them. She cared deeply for her students and they were like family. She often talked about her most rewarding experience was “looping” with students, getting them in the sixth grade and staying with them through the eighth grade, ‘The Three for Three Program’, Those relationships have lasted a lifetime.
After leaving Price, Sandra worked at King Middle School as a classroom teacher and reading specialist for a few years. Her expertise in the field of reading moved her into a position as a district wide Reading Coordinator from 2003 to 2006. In July of 2006, she became the principal of Continental Colony Elementary School until she retired from Atlanta Public Schools in 2013. After her retirement, she continued her work as a literacy consultant with The Council of the Great City Schools in Washington, DC for five years.
If you knew her, you know that she was an avid reader and a gifted writer. Although her work was a big part of her life, she enjoyed doing other things. Family and friends were extremely important to her. She loved spending time with them, traveling and having family gatherings. She loved to cook and bake. Swapping recipes was one of her favorite things to do. And she loved fishing too (although the water made her seasick)!
Sandra’s love for people was a quality that will be remembered. She would do anything in her power to help anyone. Her commitment to her family and especially to her grandson was paramount. She had an infectious personality and a great smile. She loved life and was courageous even through her illness. She was “our angel” On the afternoon of March 29, 2023, the Lord saw a rose slowly wilting and decided to take it for himself and give it a new life in his garden. Her precious memories will be cherished by her mothers, Margaret Sessoms and Dorothy Sessoms; one son,
Stephon Sessoms and one grandson, Kymani Sessoms; one sister, Sheryl Swann; two brothers, Sean (Latasha) Sessoms and Stuart Sessoms; two nephews; Troy Owens and Cameron Sessoms; two nieces, Tamera Owens and Payten Sessoms and a host of cousins, relatives and friends.
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