Amid pandemic, Dr. Hank Thiele draws on his CUC experiences to help him serve

This article is an excerpt from a larger story about how Concordia-Chicago alumni, students and faculty have been leading and serving in their vocations since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Read the full story in the Fall 2020 issue of the Forester Magazine.

As superintendent for Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL, Dr. Hank Thiele BA ’96 works at the front lines of educational delivery. Thiele is responsible for supervising a district comprising two high schools, 5,000 students and 700 staff members.

Thiele’s role as an educational administrator has been profoundly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The greatest challenges we currently face come from trying to allow for in-person learning in a safe environment for our students and staff,” he says. “Leadership has been made incredibly difficult by the nebulous, late and ever-changing COVID-19 response guidance.” He notes that managing divisiveness over the issue in the school community frequently fell to him.

Thiele completed his BA in secondary education at Concordia-Chicago and counts his time at the University as formative. “My experiences at Concordia-Chicago have always been the base from which I have taught and served as a leader,” he notes. “I frequently think of the relationships that were formed, the life lessons I learned and the strong, positive examples set by my professors.” Thiele continued his progress toward educational leadership by earning an MA in teacher leadership, an EdD in educational leadership and organizational change from Roosevelt University, and a superintendent endorsement from Loyola University Chicago.

“Through the last few months, education has been restored in the eyes of many as a critical and essential service to our communities,” Thiele observes. “For far too long, schools and teachers have been blamed for society’s problems. The pandemic has demonstrated how important our profession is to the world. It is up to us as leaders to reciprocate and provide the best possible experience for our students and families throughout these difficult times.”

Hank Thiele
Hank Thiele '96
Downers Grove, IL