New Levels director looks for technology program integration

New Levels director looks for technology program integration

The recently appointed interim director of the Great Neck Library’s Levels teen center said Friday that one of his goals was to integrate more technology-based programs to the center.

“We’re thinking about ways to incorporate technology that also touches on the arts and engage kids who are currently coming to the program and pull in some new kids who are interested in other stuff like programming, gaming and robotics,” Adam Hinz said. “I want to incorporate the technology in small, low cost ways while we’re off site.”

Hinz, a Rego Park resident, took charge of the center on Nov. 9 after an almost six-month period without a permanent director.

Former Levels director Ethan Mann resigned in May amid controversy caused by rumors he would be fired.

For weeks prior to Mann’s resignation, Levels teens, parents and alumni had been pressing the library board for answers on Mann’s status as Levels director, with many forming protests at library board committee meetings.

Hinz said he was aware of what happened with Mann’s resignation but wanted to focus on his role at the center.

“The staff has been welcoming and they have instilled a lot of trust in me. I’ve been able to build relationships with the kids,” he said. “On the weekends, a lot of the older students are slowly one by one coming back and checking things out and giving me a shot. I think we’re moving past all that and I think moving back into the new building will finalize the era of transition.”

Hinz graduated from The New School, a New York City-based university, with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences.

He went on to receive his master’s in secondary education from Fordham University.

After college, Hinz taught Social Studies at a New York City middle school for three years, where he said he would incorporate various aspects of the arts into the projects he assigned his students.

“As a teacher, all of my projects that I had students work on culminated in an art-based project,” he said.

In August 2007, Hinz took a position as a curriculum developer at Kaplan K12 Learning Services, where he authored middle school and high school curriculums.

He said he “climbed the ladder” at Kaplan, moving up the company ranks to serve as a curriculum editor, an English language arts curriculum manager and finally becoming the director of content and product development for college prep.

At the Oct. 27 library board meeting, residents said they had concerns about Hinz’s background in test preparation rather than in the performing arts, which Levels specializes in.

Great Neck Library Director Kathy Giotsas said while he did have a background in music, Hinz’s background in managing staff members at Kaplan played a role in his hiring and that his position was not limited to just theatrical and musical production.

Hinz, who is originally from Mastic Beach, said the management skills he gained from working at Kaplan and his passion for music make him the right person for the job.

“I’ve always been an artist at heart. I love the arts but particularly my skill set is in music,” he said. “I have my own band and play in other bands. I think I have enough of a working background to help kids in the program.”

Hinz is the co-founder of Badinba, an Afro-Caribbean inspired group that performs throughout New York City, in which he plays various percussion instruments.

He also recorded the xylophone parts of the teen center’s upcoming play, “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Hinz said he was excited for the play because it was one of the first plays that he had read.

“It was the first American play that I read,” he said. “I love the characters in it and I think the kids are doing a great job.”

The play will be featured in the Saddle Rock Elementary School auditorium on Jan. 14, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m.

Hinz said while he is the program’s director, he wants to allow his staff to do their jobs and support them when he is needed.

“That sort of folds into how I want to make myself useful there,” he said. “I don’t want to come in and flip everything upside down. i want to support people in their strengths.”

Hinz also said he appreciates what the Great Neck Library has been doing over the years for the teenage community, something most other library districts are just beginning to incorporate into their programs.

“It’s an amazing program and I think a lot of libraries are now looking to a teenage community to sort of revive the library,” he said. “That’s something Great Neck has been doing for a long time when other libraries are just starting to play with teen advisory boards. I love the student centered aspects of Levels.”

“I’m glad to be here. I think the staff and kids are glad to have someone in the role now,” he added. “We’re moving forward and I’m really excited about it.”

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