Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger at her interview for the principal position at Mendenhall River Community School on Monday, April 29, 2019. Hinderberger is currently finishing her second year as principal at Eagle’s View Elementary School in Unalaska. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger at her interview for the principal position at Mendenhall River Community School on Monday, April 29, 2019. Hinderberger is currently finishing her second year as principal at Eagle’s View Elementary School in Unalaska. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Elementary school has its new principal

A day after public interview, former Juneauite hired

Mendenhall River Community School has its new principal.

Juneau School District announced Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger’s hiring Tuesday afternoon, one day after she publicly interviewed for the position.

“I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to be the Principal of Mendenhall River Community School,” Hinderberger said in a press release. “I am really looking forward to collaborating with staff, students and families to nurture strengths and facilitate growth to ensure we are the best version of ourselves.”

“I would like to express my gratitude for the interview committee, the MRCS community,” she added.

[Former Juneau educator interviews for principal position]

Hinderberger is finishing her second year as principal at Eagle’s View Elementary School in Unalaska. She also serves as district test coordinator, special education and English Language Learner coordinator for the Unalaska City School District.

During her public interview, Hinderberger said taking the Mendenhall River Community School job would be a sort of homecoming for her since she was born in Juneau, raised in Haines and began her teaching career in Juneau by completing her educational leadership internship at Sayeik: Gastineau and Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé.

Hinderberger also served as Interim Assistant Principal at JDHS in 2016.

Previously, the Mendenhall River Community School job was offered to a Washington state elementary school principal, who declined the offer.

[Principal search continues]

Hinderberger was the first person to publicly interview for the position since the search was formally re-opened.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss said she’s pleased with what Hinderberger will bring to the school and the district. She specifically said Hinderberger’s experience with pre-kindergarten programs and special education is welcomed.

“JJ brings so many things to our district, and she of course started her teaching career in this district,” Weiss said in a phone interview. “She brings a different layer of expertise as well. She started out as a certified preschool teacher. Her experience just lines up very nicely, and positive energy that will just support everyone.”

Weiss said terms of compensation are still being determined and Hinderberger will finish out the school year in Unalaska.

“She will start her contract along with other principals in August,” Weiss said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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