Hinker to help lead DES staff
Posted on: Aug 14, 2017
Greg Hinker never envisioned becoming a school administrator when he embarked on his teaching career, but the path to his new position as assistant principal at Delano Elementary School has been a natural progression of interests and abilities.
Aside from a few preliminary visits, Hinker’s first day on the job came on Monday, Aug. 7. The 41-year-old native of Loyal in central Wisconsin brings a wealth of experience both in the classroom and in teacher leadership roles with districts large and small, but Delano will be his first post as an administrator.
“When you’re looking for your first administrative job you apply for some you think are interesting, but as soon as I started to do the research on Delano it was amazing how the district vision, the five strategic points and things that Delano was focusing on were perfectly aligned with my experience and with my interests,” said Hinker. “It just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Darren Schuler, principal of Delano Elementary, agreed.
“His experience as an Instructional Strategies Facilitator in his previous district lends itself perfectly to the role of an elementary assistant principal,” Schuler said. “Mr. Hinker's work in Response to Intervention (RTI) Balanced Literacy and data coaching is exactly what we need to continue our Blue Ribbon School level of excellence at Delano Elementary.”
Schuler added that Hinker’s experience teaching at a variety of grade levels was also an attractive aspect of his candidacy, and that he will be a valuable member of the DES team.
Hinker comes from a family of educators, and began steering his own course in that direction from the time he was an elementary student at the small Catholic school where his mother worked. By the time he graduated from Loyal High School in 1995 and began attending the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, new experiences confirmed that career choice.
“My first year of college I did some tutoring, and then I also worked for the YMCA and I found a talent, a passion that I have for working with kids. I just took that and ran with it,” he said. “Going into education seemed like a no-brainer.”
After earning his elementary education degree in 2000 Hinker began teaching second- and fourth-graders in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After six years there, during which he earned his master’s degree in elementary education from Viterbo University and met his wife Jenny, Hinker relocated to Minnesota and taught fifth grade for another half-dozen years in the Mounds View school district.
During and after that time Hinker continued to pursue his own education as well, earning his K-12 Reading Endorsement at Concordia University in 2011 and completing the administrative program at the University of St. Thomas last year.
Even before finishing his schooling Hinker took steps to gain leadership experience, taking over the Instructional Strategies Facilitator position at Pinewood Elementary. In that capacity he guided teaching practices to align with the larger district plan, coordinated testing, served as the data coach, assisted with student behavior management and handled the after-school programming.
Growing in leadership
Hinker said he loved his years in the classroom, and that interaction with students is the highlight of his work. After working alongside other educators and having a hand in planning and other management duties, however, a new horizon began to present itself.
“When I started to dig in and get involved in leadership activities I discovered a new interest and started to pursue it,” he said. “I started off as a teacher leader, with leadership groups in the building. Then became part of the leadership team, and my last position went from half time to full time. Each time I just took the opportunity and made the most of it. Working with teachers, working with adults, working with students – it’s an exciting job.”
Feeling at home
Coming from a larger district, Hinker said he has already appreciated the return to a smaller town setting in Delano.
“It’s definitely a different feel. I’ve really enjoyed that. You can tell that you’re part of a tight-knit community,” he said. “When you’re part of a larger district you’re just kind of one of the cogs in the wheel.”
Even outside the school grounds Hinker said he has sensed a strong community spirit in the care taken with Delano’s public spaces, and he said he is looking forward to helping fulfill the school’s forward-thinking strategic vision.
“For a district to have that sort of progressive view while still maintaining its roots and being a smaller community, that’s great,” he said. “You’re always kind of nervous on the first few days of a new job, but I have been very impressed with how welcoming the Delano school has been. From day one the feel here has just been fantastic. I’m really excited. I’m energized to do the work, and I’m ready to go.”
Outside of work
Hinker and his wife Jenny currently live in Andover and are the parents of two daughters, Emerson and Madison. The girls will be in third grade and first grade this fall.
Jenny taught for years at Maple Grove High School, but has recently moved out of the classroom to become a student management specialist while she pursues her own administrative license at the University of Minnesota.
Outside of work the family enjoys traveling, visiting with other family members and taking part in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, swimming and skiing.