Yonts’ motto, she said, is “What is best for the students is not always convenient for us,” but if in the end there are good results, they should replicate the practice.
Yonts believes she was selected as the district honoree because she tried to weave her answers as a story, and she wrote from the heart. Yes, she included all of her memberships, community involvement, professional activities and publications. But she also wrote about what’s close to her heart, like including the pedometers in physical education classes and tweeting to keep parents and the community aware of what’s going on at Harney.
“What am I supposed to be doing as a principal? And what am I doing extra to impact our community and our staff? Those are the things I really tried to explain from the heart,” she said.
She also shared about how she puts student learning at the forefront. When asked to write about how she is a risk-taker to improve the school, Yonts shared a story about Valentine’s Day. On her first Valentine’s Day at Harney, there was a large number of flowers and balloons delivered to the school from parents for their children. The counter was crowded and the phone was ringing with parents asking if their gifts had been delivered to the classroom.
“I was flabbergasted at the amount of time this took away from the secretaries, and the expectations for us to become flower delivery persons,” Yonts wrote.
So she sent a note to all parents and staff that read: “Dear Parents, I care so much about your child’s ability to learn that I must inform you that we deliver instruction and not flowers. Please refrain from sending these distractions to school. They are unsafe to take on the bus, and they cause disruption in learning. Thank you for helping us to help your child learn.”