Dr. Tony Bonta has been an educator all his life. As the principal of Andrean High School, Bonta is proud to be back at his alma mater. He has been principal for almost two years and says he was blessed to be in the right place at the right time.
“I have 450 kids. I am very fortunate to work with all of them. It’s the most complex role I have ever had. I treat people with the utmost respect and patience,” said Bonta. “I love that it’s a Catholic school. Faith can be discussed, and you can bring that aspect in all kinds of discussions with staff and with kids. I was given a really solid foundation here.”
Bonta said he was drawn back to his hometown after living and working in Florida as an educator.
“If you would have asked me a few years ago when I was living in Florida, I would have never thought I would have come back. Life is strange, but I was put here, and I enjoy it tremendously,’’ said Bonta.
Bonta said his faith brought him to use his educational skills to the best of his ability.
“It’s great to pray, but be careful what you pray for. I was given a role that can be challenging, but it is an incredible opportunity. I was also brought back home,” said Bonta.
Bonta said he is fortunate to be back in Northwest Indiana. He enjoys the inclusiveness of the area and the variety of people that call it home.
“I like the incredible diversity. I am so thankful for Northwest Indiana,” said Bonta. “My background is Slovakian-Italian. We live in an area that is diverse ethically, racially, economically and educationally. Andrean helped me cross boundaries. I was a kid from Hobart and got to meet peers from all over the area. I appreciate all the cultures and backgrounds of people.”
Bonta says Andrean not only helped him cross diverse boundaries, but it helped him gain a connection with students on a level he never had.
“It’s a privilege to listen to students. I tell them that they don’t run the school, but rather it’s their time at the school that matters. We do the best we can to open up opportunities because that’s the gift of education – we open doors for them. Sometimes it means challenging them too,” said Bonta.
Bonta enjoys being a part of a faith-based school and in the foundation that built him to be who he is.
“A relationship with God is life giving and can ground students,” said Bonta. “Social media has been a blessing and a great challenge. I think faith slows them down. It values who you are. It does not matter how many likes you get, but who you are genuinely. Faith helps them judge what is the common good. It gets them to reflect not only their dignity, but the dignity of other people.”
Bonta has been an educator for almost 30 years. He wants to express to students to put their time into what matters.
Bonta concluded, “Students know I listen and that I care. I stress that they need to make their time matter. Listening to their hopes, dreams and struggles is what I am here for. I want to help them with opportunity. That’s what is most rewarding.”