Members of the Hinsdale High School District 86 community had an opportunity Dec. 19 to meet the next principal of Hinsdale Central.
But Interim Central Principal Tom Paulsen already knew Mark Kolkman.
“I was assistant principal at Naperville Central when he was a student there,” Paulsen.
Then after Kolkman earned his bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University, Paulsen hired him as an art teacher, saying he was impressed with Kolkman’s love of kids.
“Glenbard East in Lombard then hired him away from us,” Paulsen said.
Kolkman worked as athletic director at Glenbard East for four years, and then was the high school’s assistant principal for one year.
From there, he went to Naperville Central High School where he worked as teacher and assistant athletic director. Since July 2008, Kolkman has been assistant principal at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, where he and his family live.
Yvonne Mayer of Burr Ridge, one of the parents in a focus group that met the five final candidates for the Central job, said she was pleased with the district’s choice.
“We peppered all the candidates with questions and lots of different scenarios. He gave solid, outstanding, ethical answers to all of them,” said Mayer, the mother of two Hinsdale Central graduates and a former Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 Board member. “He clearly did his research and has the enthusiasm that parents are looking for in a principal.”
As people trickled in to welcome Kolkman and left with a piece of cake, he urged them, “Tell people where you got it.”
Jim Vetrone, a physics teacher, was one of those who welcomed Kolkman.
“It’s probably intimidating to come to a new place,” Vetrone said.
Hinsdale Central Athletic Director Dan Jones said he met Kolkman when Kolkman was athletic director at Glenbard East.
“I served on some committees and attended numerous conferences with him.”
Jones said Kolkman is “organized, well respected and definitely dedicated to his profession.”
Two sophomores, Samson Pollak and Jordan Keen, both from Hinsdale, introduced themselves to their next principal.
Paulsen told Kolkman they were members of the school’s Ambassador Club.
“It helps (new students) from all around the world settle in and find friends at Hinsdale Central,” Pollak said.
In that role, Pollak said he would keep an eye on the new principal.
“I’ll show him the ropes,” Pollak said.
“We’ll make sure he’s not picked on by any of the deans,” Keen said.
Kolkman’s salary is expected to be $153,160.