Kim Yonker is passionate about the arts, and it’s that passion that she wants to pass on to her students.
She said she’s thankful that her job allows her to transfer knowledge of the arts to her students at Jenkins Middle School in District 11.
“It’s an honor to be recognized as a distinguished art educator because I feel they’re so important in developing the creative thinking skills and problem solving skills of young people in the school system,” said Yonker, who has been an art teacher since 1977. “The influence of the lives I teach will be an influence that will go on forever because teachers have that authority to touch lives every day.”
Deborah Golden nominated Yonker for the award.
“If anyone is gung-ho about their job, she’s it,” Golden said. “She’s a poster child of what you want a person to be as far as representing the arts.”
Yonker, a water colorist and sculptor, said that the biggest challenge she’s faced is that many school systems are geared toward students with mathematical and linguistic skills. She said that people are starting to understand that students have different learning styles, but the arts aren’t always recognized as an important part of a linear educational system.
“We need to educate all children,” she said, “those who are strong in the visual, the musical, the kinesthetic intelligences as well, and put it all together.”
Yonker and her husband, Larry, have two children, a daughter, Lindsay, 22, and a son, Luke, 19.
Recently, two of Yonkers students had their work displayed in “Arts & Activities” magazine. One student wrote that Yonker “showed me that I had talent, how to work both sides of my brain … and never lets me do less than my best work.”