Warner Robins teacher turning students into ‘forces of nature’ is our first Hidden Hero

Veronica Sanders is not an average teacher.

She doesn’t just assign homework and grade papers. The end of the school day is not the end of her job.

She is the type of teacher that turns her students into “forces of nature,” according to a friend who nominated her for this special recognition.

“My job is to educate, equip and empower my students to know that there is something greater for them in the future,” Sanders said.

Sanders, an agriculture teacher at Warner Robins High School, was nominated to be the first Hidden Hero for Positively 478 and The Telegraph, an award that recognizes those in the Middle Georgia community who make a difference without receiving any recognition.

Sanders said she started teaching 26 years ago and became the agriculture teacher for Warner Robins High School in 1999.

Sanders recently won the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education’s Carl Perkins Outstanding Service award for using CTE to impact the lives of people in the community, according to Warner Robins High School’s Facebook page.

Sanders said that her job is to make sure every child knows they are valuable and have something to offer the world.

“I think that a lot of students have never had a cheerleader. I really believe that it’s so important for every child to feel important, for every child to feel valuable,” she said.

Sanders’ friend Amanda Politino-Dickey, who nominated Sanders to be the first Hidden Hero, said Sanders inspired greatness in her own child, Cathleen, which is one of the many reasons Politino-Dickey nominated Sanders for the award.

“She literally took Cat and some of these other kids, and she made them into forces of nature,” she said.

Politino-Dickey said she met Sanders when Sanders decided to start a school farm for the students of Warner Robins High School.

Politino-Dickey said she was breeding rabbits at the time and just so happened to have a few for Sanders to take off her hands.

What started as a collaborative effort to start a school farm turned into a friendship, Politino-Dickey said.

She said Sanders was the type of teacher that went above and beyond for her students.

“She always had kids in her class that in a lot of other classes, they would’ve fallen through the cracks,” she said. “She took them under her wing and stayed on them about everything… She was always helping them and guiding them.”

Politino-Dickey said Sanders developed a relationship with her daughter, Cathleen, and wrote her letters while she was in basic training for the military.

“There’s not many teachers like that anymore,” she said. “They take it past personal, and they’re almost like another parent.”

Kennedy McIntyre, a sophomore and current student of Sanders, said that Sanders is the one who helped her develop an interest in agriculture when Sanders showed her the different career options in agriculture.

“She’s a great teacher because she’s lived and she’s experienced so many things,” Kennedy said. “When she’s interacting with you, she definitely makes it feel like it’s personal because she tries to make a personal connection with all of her students, and she does a really great job.”

Sanders said her students understand that she cares about them and wants what is best for them.

She tries to teach her students manners as well as how to conduct themselves in an interview and how to be a good citizen, she said.

She said she also tries to make sure every child has someone to sit with them at lunch.

“Everybody has something going on, so why not be the person that can make their day brighter instead of making their day dimmer,” she said. “If I help one student along the way, I feel so fulfilled.”

To nominate a Hidden Hero, fill out our online form or email jeason@macon.com for more information.

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Jenna Eason is a multimedia reporter at The Telegraph and creates serviceable news around food, culture and people who make a difference in the Macon community. Jenna joined The Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2018 with a journalism degree.