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Leadership Columbus Q&A: Gene Hack

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What was your first job?

To the best of my recollection I have had a job since the age of 12. I began working part-time making fishing lures, mowing grass and shoveling snow. My first after-school job was as a welder-helper for an independent welding company. I worked as an apprentice repairing water jackets for a smelting furnace. This job tied to what I was learning in my career and technical education during the school day.

What lessons did you learn from that job?

I learned that I enjoyed working with my hands and using my brain to accomplish something that was tangible.

I also learned that adults interact with students differently on the job as compared to a classroom interaction. I felt as though you were more of an equal when you were on the job site.

How did your leadership abilities develop?

I have been blessed to have many mentors both in my personal and work career. Each one saw my potential and offered opportunities to provide responsibilities outside of my normal duties. These mentors include: Jim Eifler, my high school teacher; Meredith Thompson, my first director in BCSC; Marilyn Metzler, my second director; Laura, my wife; and Nick Fritsch, a family friend, are a few that come to mind. Without their guidance and support I would not be where I am today.

Gene Hack

Place of birth: Boonville

Date of birth: Aug. 7, 1967

Title: Director, C4 Columbus Area Career Connection

Duties: Oversee the Career and Technical Education program for District 41, including Columbus East, Columbus North, Brown County, Edinburgh, Crothersville, Seymour, Hauser, North Decatur, South Decatur and Greensburg high schools.

Education: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in industrial technology education from Indiana State University. He also holds an administrator’s license as director of career and technical education.

Family: Gene’s wife of 23 years, Laura Hack, is principal at Smith Elementary School. His oldest son, Caleb Hack, is a student at Colorado Mesa University and his youngest son, Sam Hack, is a student at Columbus East High School.

Came to Columbus in: 1990 to teach welding, mechanical drawing, a computer class and more at the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. C4 program.

Community involvement: On the board of directors for Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, Sunrise Rotary Club, City of Columbus Insurance Committee, Ivy Tech Interior Design Advisory committee, Leadership Bartholomew County, Columbus Running Club, BCSC Business Advisory Group.

Hobbies: Gene enjoys hiking, camping, cooking, reading and woodworking.

What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?

Trust your team. You may not always agree with the suggestion, but trust the input and process. It may take you to a different place altogether where great things happen.

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy working with students, staff and the community to deliver the passion that I have for career and technical education. It changed my life. I live it every day and know the opportunities that a career and technical education program offer to our students and community.

What do you like least?

I am not pleased with the negative slant that education is receiving at the national and state level. I am blessed to live and work in a community that supports learning and recognizes the difference between learning and testing.

What advice do you have for people who are just now starting their careers?

I encourage you to find the passion in your current job or career and embrace it. Supervisors or potential mentors will recognize this passion and opportunities will be presented to you because of your passion. I am fortunate that I have truly enjoyed every phase of my career.

What would you like students at C4 to know about leadership?

We are very proud of the students of C4. Our students are leaders in their classes, schools and Advanced Placement opportunities within the community. The students’ understanding of teamwork, dedication to the task at hand, learning and supporting their fellow students are traits that set them apart.

We encourage, coach and mentor students to present themselves at their best, never close a door and to find the passion in their life. We encourage our students to embrace leadership opportunities and know we will be there to support them as needed.

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