“Blunt is my hometown,” said ABO Elementary Guidance Counselor Dianna Knox. “I just recently moved back and bought a house.
Knox is a Blunt High School graduate and says her first teaching assignment was with Sully Buttes 51 years ago. “I was 21 years old, the youngest person on staff. Now I’m the oldest.” Knox says that she taught the parents and even the grandparents of some of this year’s students.
Implementing the district’s character building program, Knox will work with students in Onida Monday, Wednesday and Friday and will be at the Blunt center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “I hope to create and encourage and support the building of good character in kids,” said Knox. She will read and talk to the students and says she has a plan for using puppets. “We’ll talk about being kind, generous, respectful good citizens, and reinforce what’s already going on here.”
“I come from a line of teachers,” said Knox of her career inspiration. “My aunts on both sides of my family were teachers, my dad taught school. I have a twin sister; we grew up with the expectation we’d go to college. I chose teaching as an option because I had a really good English teacher in Mrs. Hoyt.”
After high school, Knox attended the University of South Dakota and says that when it came time to choose her major, she already had a lot of English credits. “I went into English teaching,” said Knox. “That’s what I taught here.”
One year into her teaching career, Knox returned to academia and earned first a master’s degree and eventually a doctoral degree in counseling. “I’ve been a school counselor, mental health counselor, clinical mental health counselor, and a professor for about 17 years.” Of the positions she has held, Knox says that she particularly enjoyed being a college professor. “You can spend a lot of time reading, writing and researching,” said Knox.
“I love the university setting, but I was born in Pierre and raised in Blunt,” Knox continued. “I raised my kids in Pierre; they all graduated from Riggs. My 92-year-old mother lives with me in the house we’ve co-shared in Pierre for about five years, so I’m back and forth between Blunt and Pierre a lot.”
In Secondary Guidance Counselor Matthew VanZee, Knox is working with a student turned colleague. “He was a student of mine at Northern,” said Knox.
Around the time she was mentoring VanZee, Knox retired from the profession which she says “I was ill-equipped to do.” She got a call from Stanley County and worked several years as Elementary Counselor there. Her tenure with Stanley County was drawing to a close when VanZee applied for a position there. “I told them, ‘No need for an interview, hire him on the spot!’”
Knox had turned to work on the Cheyenne River Reservation when she received the call from former Elementary Principal Amber Mikkelsen regarding the elementary counselor vacancy.
“This year when the high school counseling positon came open I called Matt and told him, ‘you need to apply.’ He’s a fabulous great guy, a really remarkable human being. He’s got a great way with kids of all ages. We’ve decided it was meant to be since we’ve been in each other’s circles at Northern and Stanley County, and now here. He’s been in my work world for a long time. They’re lucky to have him.”
“I married an Onida guy, Parker Knox,” said Knox. “Our kids are grown. We raised four kids; three live in Rapid City, and our free-spirited actor lives in Tucson. Our six grandchildren are in Rapid City.”
“I consider myself fortunate,” said Knox. “I’ve been in service to others my entire career, counseling teaching, working for the Department and Human Services as the alcohol and drug prevention coordinator for state, I was director of guidance and counseling for the Department of Education. It’s been a good life, good jobs, good people I’ve met along the way, and I’m having a good time here.”
“It’s been a good run!”