New Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson delivers leadership message to Chamber audience

Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson spoke to Northeast Johnson County Chamber members Thursday.
Shawnee Mission School Superintendent Jim Hinson spoke to Northeast Johnson County Chamber members Thursday.

Leadership was at the core of the message Jim Hinson delivered to the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce lunch Thursday. And Dr. Hinson, Shawnee Mission school superintendent for the last 45 days, made it clear he is a fan of the Jim Collins “Good to Great” lessons on organizational management.

Hinson said he is in the midst of an 87-day listening period before the annual district breakfast, speaking to as many groups as possible and gathering input from the community. That will be followed by a detailed planning process, but the result needs to be a community plan, he said.

The goal, Hinson said, is not only to achieve greatness in the district, but to sustain it. He walked the crowd through how he will apply the Collins leadership points to Shawnee Mission. The district’s passion, he said, is to achieve a high level of learning for all students. “How do we measure a high level of learning? That is something we will ask the community.” What is “great” for us, he asked.

“I believe in student achievement accountability. How are we held accountable if we don’t have things that can be measured?” Hinson asked. “My belief is that every child who walks through our doors has greatness built in. We have to tap it.”

“Storms happen in life… and in the public sector,” Hinson said. He also pointed out “brutal facts” that must be confronted on the way to greatness: A 40 percent poverty rate in the district; the fact that the school nurse is the primary health provider for some students; that with school starting some students now know they will get two meals per day and are in a stable, safe environment.

Momentum starts to build when students are safe, secure and exposed to new things. “I refuse to quit on anyone – on any child,” he said earlier.

Hinson also expressed a concern about school fees: “some can’t afford them.” That was a view presented by a parent to the board just two weeks ago.

The support Shawnee Mission receives from its patrons doesn’t exist everywhere, Hinson said, emphasizing the importance of the community to the district’s success. Hinson’s leadership message was well received by the Chamber group judging from heads nodding during the presentation and the follow-up conversations.

He told the group that enrollment in elementary schools this week was more than 300 students above expectations and that the district had added more than 10 teachers in the last 10 days because of the surprise enrollment.

Hinson, who now lives in Shawnee, came to the district after more than a decade as superintendent in Independence.