Loyal Heights Elementary teacher Sally Moneda passes away, leaves lasting impression

Avid volleyball player, creative businesswomen and, foremost, inspirational teacher, Sally Moneda brought her passion for teaching into every aspect of her life.

“She was very quiet and humble, but there was this incredible creative side. Everything was done so respectfully and so calmly. That was the thing about Sally,” said Mia Cisek, whose two children were students in Mrs. Moneda’s multi-grade class at Loyal Heights Elementary School.

Mrs. Moneda died of ovarian cancer on Jan. 3. She was 47.

Sally Moneda graduated from Western Washington University in 1987 with her degree in broadcast communications. Though she spent the next few years working at KIRO-TV as a news writer, she knew it wasn’t her true calling.

“She was wondering where her heart was,” said husband Willie Moneda. “She wanted to work with kids. She liked working with kids at the Boys and Girls Club, so she switched over.”

Mrs. Moneda went on to get her master’s degree in education at the University of Washington. After her time as a student teacher at Loyal Heights, she was hired on full-time for the next 18 years. The last 10 years she spent co-teaching a third-fourth-fifth grade class with John Hamel.

She was a great learner, Hamel said. She always tried to improve and better herself to teach her kids, attending workshops and adapting techniques to help her understand the curriculum.

“Her willingness to understand teaching a multi-age class was what allowed us to get to know the kids better,” Hamel said. “She knew how to navigate that. She had this caring and sensitivity to work with these younger students … She knew how to alter expectations to different kids depending on their ability, not their age.”

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Moneda led a very active lifestyle, taking part in activities such as kayaking, biking and even sailing, Willie said. In 2005, the Monedas opened an indoor beach-volleyball center now located in Georgetown, called Sandbox. Sandbox also holds youth summer camps for volleyball beginners, giving Mrs. Moneda a chance to not only teach inside the classroom, but in an outdoor environment.

“The fact that she was so athletic and strong and loved to be healthy showed that she took good care of herself,” Cisek said. “I think she really had that energy with the kids. She brought who she was into the classroom in that way.”

“I saw that in her classroom and the volleyball camp,” said Anne Forester, whose two children were students of Mrs. Moneda at Loyal Heights as well as at the summer camp. “She showed an energy and vitality for life and I think that it shows (her students) that they need to get out there and experience life.”

Mrs. Moneda was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer three days after the school year started in 2010. It wasn’t something she could hide from her colleagues or students and even through treatment, she was able to uphold her love of teaching.

“Her courage, even when she was sick, was really inspirational,” Forester said. “She was extremely creative, courageous with her life and willing to get out there. Not willing to give up on a child. Every day she was smiling, happy to be there and really enjoying life.”

After living in hospice care for a couple months, Mrs. Moneda wanted to spend her last days out on the water on a 45-foot motor yacht the Monedas had bought in October. It was christened “Eucharisteo!”, which Willie explained means lifelong thanksgiving.

“She loved teaching and she loved kids and she loved this job,” Hamel said. “I think it really was a big part of her identity. She made a big impact in the community because of it. She and her family can be proud that she made a difference.”

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