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"They've made the transition fully into our school district," says Herl, Hinson's successor in Independence. "I don't see any more of a transition. The buildings, we continue to do things to improve them but we do that with all our schools."
Herl in 2011 wrote his dissertation about the transition of the KC district schools into Independence as a blueprint for turning around struggling schools. He concluded that the changes were successful.
"I think, number one, he [Hinson] has an unfailing belief in kids and that good teaching will prevail if you care about kids," Herl says.
Whatever his No. 1 priority turns out to be, Hinson is reluctant to shed much light on his plans for the Shawnee Mission School District, at least for another month. He has arrived, he says, without any prescribed ideas about what to change.
"My goals and vision for the district are really based on what the community wants," Hinson tells The Pitch. "It's highly inappropriate to ride in on a horse and say, 'You're doing this right and this wrong and here's what we're going to do.'"
Some lessons from Independence, however, may carry over to his new job.
He leaves open the possibility of making staff changes in the district, if not to the extent that followed the Independence annexation of 2007.
"That experience also helps me understand, regardless of a student coming from an affluent family or a family that can't find a way to put bread on the table, all these kids in the school district can be extremely successful," he says.
He pauses when asked if he's staying in Shawnee Mission for good. Six weeks into the job, he says, no one had asked that question yet.
"I think the answer is, I don't know," Hinson says. "I don't have any ambitions to go anywhere else."