When Theresa Yonsky speaks about the Bethel School system and her job, as Director of Fiscal Services for that school system, she does so in such glowing terms that she sometimes has to apologize.
“I know I sound like Pollyanna,” she says.
But, it's exactly that unabashed, sincere and good natured optimism and dedication that has earned her the continued admiration of her coworkers in her six years working for Bethel Schools. In addition her “Pollyanna” attitude helped her become the recipient of the Bethel Public School CHAMP Award – CHAMP stands for commitment, honesty, attitude, motivator, and pride. It is presented annually to an individual in recognition of having a positive influence in uniting schools and the community. Past recipients include Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker and current Board of Education Chairman, Larry Craybas.
Dr. Kevin Smith, the Superintendent of Bethel Schools, said that although she works with numbers, Yonsky never loses track of what makes the numbers so important.
“She always has the human perspective and the human element up front so the whole department never loses sight of the fact that at the end of the day we are educating children,” he said.
Smith's office gives out the award. He said Yonsky was named this year's recipient because of her passion for what she does and her work fostering, “a strong level of trust between the Board of Education, the Board of Finance, and the community at large.” He added, she worked hard to make sure everyone has “an opportunity to understand how money is allocated. She's really just helped to develop that whole sense of transparency and as a result of that there's much more trust and openness.”
Yonsky said she is “deeply honored by the award.”
She said she was dedicated to spending tax payer money wisely.
“Tax payer money is entrusted to us to spend well, and we work very hard at keeping that trust,” she said. “I try to spend a lot of time explaining what's in our budget. I try to explain the pieces that make up the budget, [because] even if you're a surgeon it doesn't necessarily mean you understand an educational budget.”
She added that every “town has taxpayer watchdog groups,” which is good because “we're held accountable.”
Craybas, the Chairman of the Board of Education, had nothing but praise for his fellow CHAMP recipient.
“No one works harder or longer on preparing a budget. Her work on the next budget literally starts as the prior school year is ending,” he said. “Teri seeks out questions from every Board of Ed member to make certain they understand the rationale and support for each request. Members asked over 60 questions during our 2012-2013 budget workshops; Mrs. Yonsky provided answers to every inquiry.”
He added, “ Teri has been credited by the Board of Finance for providing the best, most transparent information given by any town budget center. I believe you would be hard-pressed to find her match in any school district in Western Connecticut.”
Yonsky was born in Manhattan and raised in Pearl River N.Y. She moved to this area three and half decades ago with her husband John. The couple has two grown children.
Yonsky is a Certified Public Accountant, (CPA). Prior to working for the Bethel School system she worked for New Fairfield schools and before that she worked as an accountant in the business world. She said that she always worked for companies that produced important products and that now she's working on the most important product of all.
“I can't think of a better product than a senior graduating from high school,” she said. “I like that I know I make some difference.”