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The Special-Education Teacher Who Changed Her Last Name to ‘Wonder’

“There’s some freedom that comes with changing your name.”

Samantha Wonder, Special-Education Teacher

What a name!
I legally changed my last name from Jennings to Wonder earlier this year; I wanted a name that was powerful and exciting, and plus I was born on Stevie Wonder’s birthday. I’m pitching a show where I go to underfunded classrooms and make them over, like an HGTV show, and I needed a name that could go with my TV persona. There’s some freedom that comes with changing your name. I’m not attached to anybody. It’s just me.

What did your parents think?
My mom at first thought I was a little crazy, but my dad was really excited. He was like, “That’s the kind of name that’s going to be in big lights someday!” He texts me in the morning, “Good morning, Miss Wonder.” And then when Wonder Woman came out, he was like, “See, the universe is finally ready for you!” I was like, “Okay, Dad …”

Lightning Round
Age: 33.
Neighborhood: Harlem.
Blue hair: “It was on sale, and I felt like everyone does purple or red.”
Favorite TV show: A Different World. “I watched it so much when I was little that when I got to kindergarten, I was mad as hell, because I thought I was going to Hillman.”
Drink order: “A Bahama Mama with a shot of grenadine.”

*This article appears in the June 26, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

The Teacher Who Changed Her Last Name to ‘Wonder’