Now in his second year as principal at Edendale Middle School, Kristian Hinz has distilled his message to students down to three simple points, which he also considers the “Keys to Success in Life.”
The first, he says, is the need to show up – by being on time and taking responsibility for your learning. Second, pay attention – by being self-aware and staying focused. Third, do your work – conscientiously and with your best effort.
“You’re here to learn how to learn, so you can focus your mind and your time on this planet – on how to make it a better place for yourself, your community and the world around you,” Hinz said, summarizing what he tells incoming and returning students sixth-through-eighth-graders. “What is your life calling? What is the work you want to do? How do you want to contribute to yourself, your family and your history in the world?”
Although he most recently was an assistant principal at Arroyo High School, he said he considers middle school to be among the most gratifying, and important, years for students because their neural growth is accelerated in early adolescence. It is also a challenging time because students’ impulse control is not yet fully developed. Before joining the San Lorenzo Unified School District in 2016, he was an assistant principal at Winton Middle School in Hayward and before that a social sciences and language arts teacher at middle schools in Hayward and Oakland.
Hinz has nothing but good things to say about the student families, teachers and other staff at Edendale, which is located near 14th Street in the Ashland community.
“We couldn’t do it without the families,” he said. “It’s their school, really. We work for the kids and the families.”
Hinz also expressed gratitude for his Edendale colleagues, with whom he has developed a strong rapport.
“There’s a core group here who, just no matter what, they’re always willing to jump in and help one another – anybody – out. You don’t have to ask twice for anything, whether it’s subbing, taking a class, helping me get some lesson plans together – there’s this ethic here that you’re here to serve and support one another.”
He also described an enduring pride and attachment that many former students, families and employees feel for Edendale.
“There’s something that just draws people here and leaves them with this profound appreciation whenever they’ve worked here," Hinz said. "They speak of it in reverential terms.”
And in conclusion, he returns to a focus on students and their well-being.
“My whole thing is that if I don’t see kids smiling and happy, there’s something wrong,” Hinz said. “They need to feel happy here, and everybody has to feel happy, respected and validated.”