Dr. Michael Hinojosa has left Dallas ISD early once again, this time two years before his contract was up in 2024. But he says, “It’s always good to go when you can leave on your own terms,” and for him, at 65, the time is now.
It’s rumored that he will be throwing his hat into the ring to run for Dallas Mayor, and “At this time, I’m not ready to say anything about it,” but notes that the last mayoral campaign had nine candidates to fill an open seat. “But this time around, there will be an incumbent, so we’ll see how it goes.”
He adds, “I was a government teacher back in the day, so even though I haven’t been in politics, I know a lot about it.”
He also knows a lot about collaboration and getting along with others. Having grown up in a family of ten in Oak Cliff near Samuel High School, where he attended and played basketball, he learned to negotiate with others and work as a team.
Hinojosa’s Career Path
He began his teaching career at W.H. Adamson High School in south Dallas and made frequent moves all over the city for different positions in different schools. He even lived in The Village Apartments where Billionaire Mark Cuban once lived, “and I think I lived in just about every apartment complex in east Dallas,” among many others. “My name used to be ‘Change of Address,’” he jokes. He has no plans to leave Dallas now although he has taken on a significant role in a company that coaches administrators throughout the county. “My family and friends are here, so we’re staying.”
During Hinojosa’s first stint as Superintendent of DISD, he helped pass a huge Bond to help the city’s schools, but he says he regrets one big mistake: over hiring teachers during 2007 for the 2008 school year. That resulted in a $64 million budget deficit and several layoffs. The Dallas Morning News stated that this damaged his period of leadership. And although he signed a contract renewal as DISD superintendent for three years, he took a job in Atlanta. His final day in his first period as DISD Superintendent was June 30, 2011.
He returned to DISD following Superintendent Mike Miles, becoming interim superintendent in July 2015. Eventually Hinojosa was offered the permanent position as superintendent again in October of 2015, and in September 2019 the DISD board voted 6-1 to renew his term until September 2024. But in January of this year, Hinojosa announced he would resign before the end of 2022, potentially to run for mayor of Dallas. There are currently 237 public schools in DISD with 145,113 students enrolled.
Making an Impact
After two stints as DISD superintendent, he is now the Chief Impact Officer of engage2learn (e2L), a private company that “partners with local communities to create cultures and systems that prepare learners for the economy of today and tomorrow.”
Begun in 2011 in Texas, e2L now has a presence from coast to coast in the US and claims, “We equip students, teachers, and leaders with Life Ready Skills to take on the world’s increasingly brighter future.”
Engage2learn, or e2L, says that “Our culture is who we are; our collective thoughts, actions, core values, and beliefs reflect the robust culture we have created at engage2learn.”
Dr. Hinojosa has created his own consulting company and e2L is one of his five clients, and one that he is excited to be working with. “I’ll be with them 50 days out of the year and am here in Las Vegas right now meeting with a group.”
As a student and athlete as Samuel, Hinojosa was too short to be a college prospect in basketball, but his high school coach told him, “You are the smartest player I’ve coached. You won’t be a college athlete, but you are so persistent – you will be somebody important one day!”
At Harvard recently, Hinojosa tried to sink a basket in the gym on campus and laughed. “To be honest, my technique was good, but my knees don’t bend like they used to.” His love of basketball hasn’t diminished with time. He has season tickets to the Mavericks and goes to the games with friends and family members. In fact, he lives so close, “I can walk to the games.”
As a teacher and coach, Hinojosa loved helping his students achieve. He’d hoped to move up into administration in DISD but couldn’t get a principal position, so moved to Grand Prairie ISD where he became principal of Grand Prairie High School and met his wife. “She was a volleyball coach and of course I couldn’t date her until one of us left. So low and behold, the following year the Grand Prairie Superintendent switched out the Principals! I was sent to South Grand Prairie and the principal there came to my school.”
Eventually he and his wife ended up in the same school again, “And I took her out to dinner to fire her,” he said, “She was so made at me.” But a lawyer later pointed out that she was hired first, and so not hired by him, so she could keep her job.
Now, running his own consulting business, he says, “She was my secretary at first, then my Executive Secretary and now Chief of Staff,” he laughs. “She really does keep me on schedule.” And she travels with him frequently. They’ve been married 33 years. Their two chihuahuas back home, Boo and Scout, are cared for by family members when they’re away.
A New Venture
As CEO of his own consulting firm, he can make decisions without the worry of how it will affect the thousands of employees he used to be responsible for, and that is a key to his leaving DISD this year.
“As superintendent, I would wake up at 4:45 in the morning and think to myself, ‘All the Buses are gone,’” he says. “There was always this worry about our faculty and students. After 27 years, I no longer have to worry about so many people.” E2L has about 200 employees, and he’s not in charge of any of them.
His experience as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent has taught him how to help others in those positions. “You don’t get better by going to a workshop,” he says, “It’s the coaching that helps.”
He may have left DISD once again before his contract ended, but he hasn’t left the district in poor shape. His former Chief of Staff and Austin’s Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde returned to Dallas in July to lead the school system.
Hinojosa says, “She lasted longer than any other Chief of Staff that I had – which says something about me – or something about her!”
He thinks, “To be successful in DISD, you have to know Dallas, and she knows Dallas.” He also said he’s available if needed. “She has my cell number,” but adds, “She knows the job, she knows what to do,” and he feels he won’t be needed much.
The Future of Education
Hinojosa’s new position allows him to get back to what he loves: teaching and coaching. He has no plans to retire. “My wife says our home isn’t big enough for both of us to be there all the time,” and says his parents worked into their 70’s.
As for politics, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to be successful.
“I have the energy to keep working, so I plan to,” he says.
Meanwhile, he’ll be cheering on the Mavericks, meeting his extended family for dinner at the Stoneleigh Pea and coaching administrators and teachers across the country to be positive and successful in their professions.
And maybe one day soon, he’ll be announcing his candidacy for Mayor of the city he’s served in for decades.
E2L is a consulting company that helps K-12 schools throughout the nation to:
- Support teaches and leads to retention
- Establish equitable outcomes for everyone
- Improve school outcomes
- And give students the tools, experiences and resources they need to thrive
For more information on the company, contact Taylor Sandquist at firstname.lastname@example.org