Dana Ponsky

“There is a ton of stuff that has happened in my life, but there are two things that have truly changed the way I look at things: the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the death of Michael Ehrlich. Michael Ehrlich died just one week after graduating from Hillel. I remember getting the phone call at 9 PM and I immediately went into complete calm mode. I didn’t panic, I didn’t freak out, I didn’t scream, and I didn’t cry. I just stood there. I realized at that moment that this was going to be the one of the worst things to ever happen to me, professionally. I realized that his loss was of great significance when I went to his funeral the next day and I watched as the entire graduating class of 2013 went from being my kids and my students, to being adults, all standing there together. It was the most wonderfully sad thing I had ever seen, to see the outpour of love and watch them grieve over him. As a professional, I had a barrier with my students, but this event showed me that a barrier is not necessary. I am not my student’s friend, but I can be confident. I can be something more than just a person that sits on the other side of the desk. This event showed me that I can be everything I want to be and still be a professional. Now, I am able to have a compassion and love for you guys in a way that I wasn’t able to before. Michael brought that into my life and allowed me to become close to last year and this year’s senior class. He taught me that I can have a relationship that is deep, important and meaningful, not only on my student’s end, but on my own as well. I still constantly think about Michael.”

– Dana Ponsky, College Counselor

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