MPW.70 / 2018 Super Sonny: Protecting the Kids of Mountain Grove by Ioana Moldovan
Photographer
Ioana Moldovan Bucharest, Romania
Team Chapnick

Story Summary

If school kids in Mountain Grove, Missouri had to pick a superhero, it might be Super Sonny. In adults’ words, Sonny Byerley is the first resource officer for this small Ozark town. His job is to keep the kids safe… and he would add “happy.”

He walks the school hallways with a purposeful gait. His strong stature and resolute posture are packaged with a constant smile on his face. “You wanna know what my job is about? It’s two thousand high fives and some hundred hugs a day”, says Sonny. And that just makes everyone’s day.

The 44-year-old father of five has been a police officer for over twenty years. He has taught geo-graphy, coached soccer, track and football. He is also a Bible study teacher, firearms instructor, gun shop owner and part-time farmer.

“My life’s goal is to be a part of the community,” Sonny says, “to be part of something bigger than myself. I believe I got that.” From the children and parents response, he has what he hoped for.