“I am an optimist; I believe everyone has the capability to learn.”
Dr. Bonnie Longnion, a retired educator and administrator, currently lives her life with joie de vivre in Kingwood while staying engaged as a trustee on the Humble ISD Education Foundation board. “All my life I’ve been a doer, so it’s taking some time to slow down,” she laughed.
During her more than 40-year career span, Longnion has donned multiple roles in academia. In addition to teaching at elementary and high school levels and as an adjunct professor at college and university levels, she was the dean at Lone Star College for seven years and one of Humble ISD board’s policymakers for 25 years.
Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Longnion attended parochial school until the sixth grade before starting public school. She left Port Arthur after graduating from Lamar University and then pursued a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University.
“I spent time observing my teachers’ behavior and their patience with us kids. That’s when I thought, 'I could do this,'” said Longnion. “When I was in college, my dad encouraged me to do a semester in engineering because I enjoyed mathematics, so I gave it a try. But I always wanted to teach and felt it was a service to give back to the community, so I switched majors.”
Not many know that this published writer and recipient of several awards, including the first-ever FamilyTime Women of Achievement award in education, aspired to be a Broadway dancer and even planned to study summers in New York to pursue it, in addition to teaching. Unfortunately, even though she survived polio, she had to give up that dream at the age of 9 years old.
“I’ve worked with students of all ages and found it especially rewarding inspiring those who felt they couldn’t learn or didn’t have opportunities available. It became my mission to help change attitudes towards literacy so that they could improve their lives, the lives of their future families and open up job opportunities,” said Longnion, who believes that everybody has a right to quality education, both children and adults.
Longnion felt that re-inventing herself by transferring experience she gained to something else she found exciting broadened her horizons in her career.
“When I moved to Kingwood, there was an opening on the school board. I felt I could impact change at a broader level. That started the most meaningful purpose of my professional life. Even though it was difficult to hear some of the challenges, it was important to our community, so I got in there and did it,” said Longnion, who was recognized for her 25 years of service on the Humble ISD board in June 2013.
Since literacy was always the focal point, Longnion decided to get involved at the regional and state levels and served on the Texas Association School Board for 10 years. She realized that she could help steer policies, written to guide school districts’ management, to reflect the best for students and communities.
“It was an excellent experience for me. Apart from gaining invaluable knowledge from other board members, I was exposed to leadership, legal, technology and financial issues faced by 25 community colleges and 1,030 school districts at the time, and received insights on how they handled them,” said Longnion. “Besides, I felt that I could bring a different and fresh approach back to Humble ISD, even though it was already such a good school district.”
Still in contact with some of her former students, Longnion feels proud to hear of their success stories and hopes she had a little part in shaping their young minds.
When not volunteering, Longnion enjoys concerts, theater, socializing with friends and her book clubs. She travels often to visit her son and daughter and their kids.
“My grandkids and I just light up when we see each other. They call me ‘Bon-Bon’ and I can spend weeks with them.”
Longnion continues to enjoy retirement, her family and certainly keeps her interest in education!