“In order to be accepted by different tribes, I would be willing to jump off high rocks and drink camel blood,” insists Diana Yonsky, social studies teacher at Bethel High School.
Had Ms. Yonsky followed her dream of becoming a photo journalist for National Geographic, her life would have altered drastically; but instead, she followed another dream and became a high school history teacher.
Ms. Yonsky grew up in New Fairfield, Connecticut. She realized she enjoyed teaching when she took a summer job as a lifeguard on Candlewood Lake helping children learn how to swim. After graduating high school, she was accepted to UConn where she majored in education. It was then when Ms. Yonsky realized it was time for her to start being more responsible and begin to think for herself.
A turning point in her life included the semester she spent abroad in Florence, Italy. Being alone in a foreign country, staying in a hostel “taught me to become responsible for myself and my finances” she says.
Hostel life helped Ms. Yonsky learn about other cultures. There were different kinds of people living there with her and often she had to sleep with her purse and personal belongings clenched to her under her blankets. One time she woke up to the screaming of a grown man having a nightmare. Although living in the hostel was not as fun as skydiving over the Swiss Alps, Ms. Yonsky has not regrets.
After returning from Italy, Ms. Yonsky began her student teaching. She ended up teaching in Hartford and had to learn to deal with the urban environment.
Ms. Yonsky heard rumors about the kids being “uncontrollable” and having “no respect” for anyone, but “there were some kids who seemed like they could have fit right in here at Bethel High School,” she insists. This experience made Ms. Yonsky realize that she should never judge someone before she knows them.
Despite all these experiences Ms. Yonsky insists there is one person who matured her the most: her high school cross-country coach.
Ms. Yonsky says he coach was not one to mess around. He wanted to work hard and get things done. He not only taught her how to run long distances, but also the “true meaning of seriousness and dedication.”
These two guidelines are what Ms. Yonsky believes everyone should live by. There is a time to have fun and let loose, but there is also a time where we need to be serious to get things done. It’s not the most fun but it teaches “tough love.”
Ms. Yonsky is the type of person to have a good laugh and she manages to get her work done as well, so it shows that she took everything she learned and carried it with her on her journey of growing up.