English teacher and journalism adviser Donna Hornik retires

Laine Cibulskis, Editor-in-Chief

English teacher and journalism adviser Donna Hornik will retire after 19 years as a teacher, with 13 years at East. 

At East, Hornik said she has always felt she was home.

“At the end of the day, I always take a moment to look around at my classroom before closing my door, and [ask] myself ‘Did I put in a good day?’ And to me, that’s what you do when you’re home. ‘Did I put in everything that I could today?’ And it’s one of the difficult parts about leaving,” Hornik said.

Hornik led East’s journalism program with state champions and award-winning issues, including a second place win in sectionals at the Illinois High School Association competition on April 9.

Humanities department chair Daniel Vergo said, “[Hornik] is the reason why our newspaper and journalism team has been as successful as it is today. She has had a hand in writing the [English] curriculum that our students have learned and used to become successful adults.  She’s been a mentor to so many of our teachers.”

Hornik was a journalist for 12 years before teaching, serving as an editorial assistant, beat reporter, general assignment reporter, education reporter, and head writer for “Family Life,” a Sunday magazine that covered issues about the joys and struggles of family life.

Working in journalism helped Hornik discover a passion for teaching.

“When I was covering a lot of education issues, I felt a pull. I always felt like [teaching] was a calling. And sometimes [when reporting] I would be jealous of teachers because they did remarkable things, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Hornik said.

Hornik said students are the best part of her day.

“There has never been a day that I dreaded going to school because of students. They were the highlight and my purpose. To say they impacted my life is an understatement,” Hornik said.

In retirement, Hornik will take with her a bigger heart, a finer understanding of her fellow man, and a willing eagerness to live for today, she said.

“Sometimes I wish I could just wrap [teaching] up and bring it with me. But I guess I know I’m not really leaving it behind,” Hornik said.