Yonts was nominated by Julia Brown, speech language pathologist, and Eileen Potenza, developmental preschool teacher. Their nomination stated Yonts was an excellent candidate for the award due to her passion for education, her visionary point of view, and her inspirational leadership. They pointed out that Yonts serves as the elementary principal liaison, and she shares personal work with other elementary principals. She is trained as a RISE teacher evaluation coordinator and continually provides appropriate and constructive feedback to help staff grow. She coordinates and acts as the administrator for the developmental preschool, present at Harney for four years. She serves as co-coordinator for Title 1 services. She immediately answered parent questions and provided a video to parents regarding school procedures and protocol after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. She attends the monthly All Pro Dads events, promoting positive parent-child relationships. At the state level, she serves as IASP vice president for district five.
“She should be considered for the award based on her excellent display of strength when navigating through new (Indiana Department of Education) changes, her always upbeat and positive attitude on long days, her encouragement to all staff members to continue to grow in their love for education, and her courage to take on difficult situations for the good of the community,” the nomination states. “Mrs. Yonts is a wonderful example of a principal who has dedicated many late nights, early mornings, weekends, and summers to help her staff become better educators to provide the best quality education for children in Lebanon.”
Yonts said the application was “very easy” to complete because Harney is a wonderful school. She included a lot of information about how the staff has gone above and beyond to help student learning. She initiated Tuesday Tutoring over the summer, which helped 70 students keep their reading skills up over the break from school. She started 90-minute literacy blocks within the school day, calling it CHIRP time. A stuffed cardinal tweets into the paging system when it is CHIRP time, and students go to a special place to read, receiving reading intervention. The next year, they switched to math intervention blocks.