Yonke named one of area’s most influential women

Steve Chapman

Dr. Debbie Yonke

Dr. Debbie Yonke, the director of the Professional Learning and Instructional Support Department in the Republic R-III School District, has been named by Springfield Business Journal as one of Southwest Missouri’s 20 most influential women for 2021.
Yonke has been with the Republic School District for eight years. She said her job is to make sure that Republic’s teachers have the materials and resources they need to provide the best possible instruction in their classrooms.
“I assist with creating and putting into place professional learning for our teachers based on feedback they provide,” she said. “I also help support secondary curriculum work, which ensures the teachers have the materials (and) resources needed to teach their courses.
My professional mission is to empower and support educators so that they can equip our students for a successful future.”
Yonke and the other women selected for the honor were photographed earlier this month who will appear in an issue of SBJ next month. Interestingly enough, while they are being honored, the “Women of Influence” will be helping to support a worthy cause.
“On Sept. 10, all of the Women of Influence had the opportunity to meet each other and participate in a photo shoot which will be featured in an upcoming issue of Springfield Business Journal, I believe on Oct. 4,” Yonke said.
“On this day, we also got to meet the non-profit that we are partnering with for this event and recognition—Women in Need. On Oct. 5, each woman of influence will be recognized at a luncheon and the proceeds of this event will also help support Women in Need.”
Highlights efforts of district’s educators
While it will be Yonke’s picture appearing in SBJ, she said the honor really highlights the efforts of all of the district’s educators.
“I am hopeful this recognition highlights the amazing work that happens each day in our classrooms across the district,” she said.
“We have dedicated leaders and teachers who truly care for our students and are equipping them for future success.
Yonke said she hoped it would show the district’s students that they can achieve anything.
“To our students, I would encourage them to dream about possibilities and know that they have the opportunity to positively influence those around them each day,” she said. “Dream big and chase your dreams.”
Yonke a critical piece
Dr. Matt Pearce, superintendent of Republic Schools, said Yonke’s contribution to education in the district has had a major impact on student learning.
“Dr. Yonke has been a critical piece of Republic School’s success during the last seven years,” he said. “She is a smart and conscientious leader who always does what is best for students and teachers. With her help, our district has improved teaching, learning, and leadership and we are fortunate to have her on our team.”
Josey McPhail, director of communications for the district, also praised Yonke’s work.
“Dr. Yonke was selected for this honor because of her tremendous professional and civic accomplishments and contributions,” she said. “Dr. Yonke is known as a compassionate, dedicated and well-respected educator that goes above and beyond to meet the needs of the students and educators she serves. We are tremendously lucky she chooses to serve in Republic.”
Yonke herself said she could not think of a better profession to serve in than education, or a better district to work in than Republic.
“I feel so blessed to have been involved in education for over 30 years,” she said, “and am honored to serve as a member of the Republic team and alongside colleagues throughout the Southwest Region and the state. I can’t think of another career or profession that makes such an important difference each day.”
The ceremony honoring Yonke and the other Women of Influence will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Double Tree, located next to the Hilton Hotel, at 2431 N. Glenstone Avenue in Springfield. Admission is $40 per person, and the event lasts from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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