A Crowning Achievement


Local teacher inspires in the classroom and on the pageant stage

With the name Sunny Day, it is easy to assume that this is not the average teacher. In her five years in the classroom, Day has been a fifth grade English and social studies teacher, sixth grade English teacher, ELA site coordinator, Attendance Chair, and Cheer Coach at Western Heights Public Schools. On top of all of that, Day is also a pageant queen, model, advocate, volunteer, and social media content creator.

Day began participating in pageants when she first attended The University of Oklahoma. She was a shy child, so her mom encouraged her to make friends.

“I saw a flyer for the Miss OU Pageant and thought it would be a great place to meet people. I finished in last place, but I did make friends and even received a scholarship to help with school,” Day explained.

Day went on to participate in many more pageants over the next ten years such as Miss Earth, Miss America, and Miss USA. These experiences ended up changing her life beyond relationships and titles.

“I have a passionate heart and always wanted to fight for things but did not have the courage to do so until I started doing pageants,” Day added.

While pageantry and teaching seem wildly different, for Day, they went hand-in-hand.

“To participate in pageants, you must have a platform; mine has always been education. I use my time on stage to share experiences of the classroom. Many people have never heard teachers say these things on a large platform. This helps the community gain insight and understand why we are worth fighting for,” Day stated.

Developing this platform helped Day to remember her purpose for teaching.

“I see myself in the kids that I work with, specifically those that come from traumatic households. I grew up with a single mom and my dad had addiction issues. Miraculously, I was the first person to finish high school and college. If it was not for my education, I could have ended up like them,” Day shared.

Because of the confidence she gained through her experiences, she felt comfortable sharing her story with her students.

Day explained “I offer a unique perspective. I’m open with my kids and tell them my real experiences. I know there are people who are telling them that they’ll never be anything. I think my story inspires kids to not give up with themselves. The few teachers who stood and protected me changed my life, and I want to be that person for them.”

Day was even approached by Vice News to be a part of a documentary that highlights what life is like for contestants outside of pageantry and the hardships they face. They followed Day behind the scenes while competing in Miss Earth and even went to her classroom to film her teaching. She was open about her struggles with work-life balance and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“Work-life balance is difficult, but I’ve improved some over the years. I take time to do yoga and see a therapist. If I’m not mentally there, there’s no way I can serve those kids. I used to feel guilty if I was sick at the beginning of my career, and now I’m unapologetic when taking mental health days. School systems can do better to offer resources to teach us how to achieve this sooner.”

Day plans to retire from pageantry soon but takes the lessons she has gained with her.

“Oklahoma is getting better and growing, but we still have a long way to go. This journey has inspired me to run for office and make bigger changes and to advocate for teachers,” Day said.

Day has proven that pageant contestants are more than just pretty women on stage and that teaching is more than just delivering curriculum. She is living proof that even in the darkest of times, there will always be Sunny Days ahead.

UPDATE: This story was featured in the 2023 spring edition of the Education Focus magazine. Since it was published, Day was officially crowned Miss Oklahoma on Saturday, June 10. Congratulations, Sunny!