Episode 016: Nicholas (Nick) Henkle

"The key is that we have a team, they come in every day, and they ensure that the next generation is better than the last."

- Nick Henkle

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     Nicholas (Nick) Henkle, is the Superintendent of Channahon School District 17, in Channahon, Illinois. Nick began his teaching career at Downers Grove North High School as a long-term substitute teacher.  He then taught for three years in a junior high school setting at Rockdale School near Joliet, IL, teaching Language Arts and Reading and also coaching football and basketball.  He later became the principal in Oak Lawn, IL in Atwood Heights District 125 where he served for six years. Nick accepted his first superintendency in Rockdale, IL in 2013, at the age of 32.  He now serves as the superintendent of the Channahon School District 17, where he serves 1,300 outstanding Pre-k - 8th grade students.  Nick has served as an adjunct professor for aspiring administrators through Saint Xavier University and has provided professional development at state conferences through the Illinois Association of School Administrators.  
     Nick earned his bachelor's degree in English with a teaching endorsement in Language Arts at
Northern Illinois University. He obtained his master's degree from the University of St. Francis in 2007, at the age of 26.  While serving as principal, Nick enrolled in the doctoral program at Illinois State University.  He  expects to defend his dissertation in January, 2017, which is a comparative case study of high achieving school districts in Illinois serving economically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse school districts.  Nick also obtained his superintendent endorsement in 2013.      
      Nick is an active member of numerous organizations, including the
Illinois Association of School Administrators, the American Association of School Superintendents, The Suburban Superintendents' Association (Chicago suburbs), the Illinois Association of Christian Administrators (co-founder), the Joliet Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Joliet Partners in Education, the Will County United Way Education Committee, the Channahon-Minooka Rotary Club, and the Channahon Economic Development Committee.  Nick earned two university academic awards for his work at Illinois State as well as the Illinois Association of School Administrator's Moon Scholarship for aspiring superintendents. 

About The Conversation

      Nick's interests and passions revolve around service leadership, innovation/creativity, classroom differentiation through technology, community-focused schools, and meeting the needs of a diverse learning community.  He is an advocate for 21st Century Learning and introduced the 21st Century Learning initiative in  his school district.  


  • Scholarship: Nick believes in life-long learning as the norm.  Technology has changed the way we learn, and has influenced how students and educators access information.  It has inspired personalized learning in powerful ways, allowing for learning to happen 24/7.
  • Leadership:The empowerment of students and staff is critical, believing that they are ultimately the change makers.  The work of John Maxwell, and his 5 levels of Leadership, serve as a guide to Nick's leadership and decision making.  Building a sustainable leadership model allows for the development of our next generation of educational leaders.
  • Agency:  The opportunity to impact a child's life, as a member of a noble profession like education, can become mundane if not careful, and remind ourselves why we are in this work.  We need to make sure that we send messages that their achievement and success is about what they believe they can achieve, than their socio-economic background.

      Helping educators cultivate a growth mindset is an important aspect of his work.  This requires a need for a change in how teachers thinking about teaching and learning.  This requires deep reflection on what they want from their students.

Resources Mentioned

District Website:  Channahon School District 17

Google Evangelist: Jamie Casap

Book used for teacher professional learning network: Innovator's Mindset

Growth Mindset

You can reach xxx on

The District Leader email:  podcast@disrictleader.net

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The Sponsors
     This episode is being sponsored by
audible.com, where you get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/districtleader, by Isagenix, one of America’s leading health and wellness companies, and by Wiredprofiles.com, Education’s Weekly Digest.

Additional resources

You can reach Luis Valentino on