Teacher helps students and teachers alike in role at Hinsdale Central
Hinsdale Central High School's head cheerleading coach Kristen Bronke helps the cheerleaders make fleece blankets for patients at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on Oct. 11. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Kristen Bronke grew up in Decatur, Ill.
At age 16, her family moved to Lincolnshire and she graduated from Stevenson High School
Undergraduate Major: Management Information Systems from Millikin University in Decatur
Teaching Certificate from Eastern Illinois University
Current home: Palatine
Updated: December 17, 2012 1:56AM
HINSDALE —Kristen Bronke helps struggling students, cheerleaders and new teachers at Hinsdale Central High School.
As director of the achieve program, Bronke works with student support teams “to help students who are struggling academically, behaviorally or social emotionally.”
As a mentor coordinator, she helps newly hired certified staff members transition to Hinsdale Central.
And for the past nine years, Bronke, 32, has been the head girls cheerleader coach at Hinsdale Central.
When Bronke was hired as a business teacher, school officials saw she had cheered in high school and college, and asked if she would be interested in coaching.
“I can’t believe that was nine years ago. I really enjoy it,” Bronke said. “You get to see the girls in a different way.
“The best part of Central is there’s such a wide range of girls that participate,” Bronke said. “They’re involved in a lot of different activities. One is president of the varsity club. Another is on the conflict resolution team. Some are ambassadors that help transfer students. Cheerleading is just the glue that holds them together.”
Most of the girls cheer for all four years of high school, and Bronke said it’s amazing to see how they grow during that time.
The program also has grown.
“When I started in 2004, there were 40 girls in the program then. Now there’s 65 for each season,” Bronke said. Some girls are cheerleaders for the fall football season, some are cheerleaders for the winter basketball season and some cheer for both seasons.
“We added a bigger freshman team and a bigger varsity team. The talent was there and you want to provide an opportunity for all the girls.”
The cheerleading program starts the same day football practice starts, which was Aug. 8 this year.
“We go to camp in the summer and learn the proper technique.” The fall season goes until the football team’s last playoff game. The cheerleaders practice two hours a day, four times a week and then perform on the fifth day.
Then basketball season starts Nov. 5 and lasts until the first week in March.
The cheerleaders “work really hard, stunting and lifting (each other) in the air. There’s dancing and tumbling. It’s a lot more acrobatic and physical than 15 years ago,” Bronke said.
“I have high expectations for them,” Bronke said. “They come to expect that and learn to expect it of themselves.”
The coaches participate in the routines, too.
“We will be in the mix reminding them,” Bronke said. Once or twice during practice, she has filled in as a member of the base, lifting the girls up for a maneuver.
This year will be the first that Bronke has not been the head coach for both the fall and winter sports.
“I’m exiting because there are other great coaches. And if they want to do it, by golly, I’m happy to let them.”