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)

Former Juneau educator interviews for principal position

First public interview held since principal search reopened

Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger hopes her education career continues where it began.

Hinderberger, current principal at Eagle’s View Elementary School in Unalaska, started as an educator in the Juneau School District. In 2012, she completed her educational leadership internship at Sayeik: Gastineau Community School, and Monday morning she had a public interview for the Mendenhall River Community School principal position.

“I absolutely love my current job, and there’s no covering it up,” Hinderberger said. “The only reason I’d leave it is to come here and be near my family and my home.”

Hinderberger was born in Juneau and raised in Haines.

Previously, two other candidates publicly interviewed for the position on Thursday, April 18. Nathan Coutsoubos, an elementary school principal in Washington state, was offered the position but declined.

The search was then opened to new candidates without a set deadline for when a hire would be made. However, school district chief of staff Kristin Bartlett said sooner would be better than later when the decision to reopen the search was announced.

[Principal search continues]

Hinderberger’s 50-minute, 14-question interview at the school she hopes to lead was the first public interview since then.

“What’s enticing to me about this position is getting back to Juneau, this really is my home,” Hinderberger said. “Specifically though to Mendenhall River Community School … from the little bits and pieces that I’ve seen, and the interactions I’ve had, I feel as though it would be a really good fit for me.”

Hinderberger, who holds a graduate certificate in special education from the University of Alaska Southeast, a master of science in educational leadership and a master of arts in English Language Learning from Western Governors University, is the first to publicly interview for the position since it was re-opened.

Hinderberger also served as interim assistant principal at Juneau-Douglas High School Kalé in 2016.

During her interview with a panel consisting of representatives from the school’s certificated staff and classified staff, district administration and the site council, Hinderberger characterized herself as an energetic and positive person.

Hinderberger said she makes a conscious effort to be the best version of herself every day and that quality would serve her well as Mendenhall River Community School’s principal.

[If you’ve noticed air monitors around Juneau, here’s what they’re doing]

In response to a question about what her focus would be heading into her first year as principal, Hinderberger said seeking input from staff about what is working and what could use change would be a priority.

Additionally, she said getting to know staff and students would be an important early happening.

“One thing that’s really important to me is meeting all the kids and learning who they are,” Hinderberger said. “When that parent calls you in the first week, and it’s going to happen, and starts telling you about little Johnny, you better know who little Johnny is.”

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

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of May 22, 2022

Here’s what to expect this week.

Coast Guard aircrews medevaced two people from Dry Bay Airstrip, approximately 30 miles Southeast of Yakutat, Alaska, after their plane crashed, May 25, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Coast Guard District 17)
Three medevaced after plane crash near Yakutat

All four aboard were injured, three critically so.

The author’s appreciation for steelhead has turned into something like reverence considering what’s happening to populations in the Lower 48 and Canada. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Silent steel

“You forget most of what ends up in the freezer, but those steelhead, they stick with you.”

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seen here in this June 16, 2021, file photo, announced Wednesday he will not seek relelection in the Alaska State Senate, where he has served since 2013. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Senate president says he won’t run again

“Honor and a privilege.”

Hoonah’s Alaska Youth Stewards helped make improvements to Moby and water the plants in summer 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Jillian Schuyler)
Resilient Peoples & Place: Moby the Mobile Greenhouse cultivates community

It presents opportunities to grow food knowledge and skills.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 26, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Supreme Court orders use of interim map for elections

The decision came just over a week before the June 1 filing deadline for the August primaries.

A male red-winged blackbird displays his showy red patches and calls to a rival male (Gina Vose photo)
On the Trails: Birds and beetles at Kingfisher Pond

Something is almost always happening at Kingfisher Pond.

Most Read