Janet Hinen dedicated her life to raising some smart cookies. If she had a secret recipe, it was simply to make learning fun. She understood that kids had a lot going on in their lives outside school and sometimes loving them was more important than a red grade at the top of a paper. Known for inviting entire classrooms of students to her home for end-of-year water fights, hosting Tickled Pink fundraisers where kids could tell a joke for a quarter, and bringing in treats for no reason, Janet’s true gift was showing those around her the true meaning of kindness. That said, nothing gave her more pleasure than seeing her students grow and learn.
A graduate of Columbia City High School and Ball State University, Janet spent her entire career teaching at Whitley County Consolidated Schools before retiring in 2016 due to illness. Prior to her passing, she established an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Whitley County to share her love of teaching. The Giving a Helping Hand Fund was entirely her idea and for generations to come, it will benefit K-5 elementary school teachers new to Whitley County Consolidated Schools.
The endowment fund will provide grants to help each teacher make their classroom a special place. The money can be used for decorations, snacks or supplies for a unique classroom project; the choice is theirs. Grants will be made to teachers in both traditional and special needs K-5 classrooms during their first year of employment at WCCS.
Janet’s hope was that her love of teaching will be carried forward. You’ll know that is occurring when you come across a teacher who is a shelter for the quirky kids, allowing them to be who they are and celebrating their differences; a teacher who tells jokes and laughs at theirs; who sings, dances or does jumping jacks to start the day; and a teacher who, at some point during the school year, makes each student feel as though they are a favorite. Janet urged each student to be their best self, but the most important lesson she taught was how to be a good person. She was a treasure, adored by her students, loved by her family and friends. The Community Foundation is proud to be carrying out her legacy.