Linda Hilgenbrinck ’01

Linda Hilgenbrinck

Linda Hilgenbrinck came to Texas Woman’s University to complete her personal life goal to obtain a doctorate and calls herself “A Proud Pioneer.” Her current role with the Denton Independent School District as an Adapted Physical Education (APE) Specialist in the Special Education Services (SES) Department offers Hilgenbrinck the opportunity to employ the expertise and knowledge she has on a daily basis. Serving eight campuses, Hilgenbrinck’s students range from Pre-Kindergarten to High School allowing her to work in a variety of educational settings with a wide range of student needs. Hilgenbrinck applies her knowledge of physical education pedagogy strategies, disability specific modifications and adaptions of physical gross motor skills, sport skill acquisitions, and physical fitness needs on an individual basis per student needs. In her own words, “I strive to enable and engage my students to arrive at their best functional abilities or physical self in becoming lifelong “physically educated’ active individuals.”

What do you enjoy about your current position/profession? I have the privilege to work directly, hands-on, with the students (with disabilities) on my caseload. I take pride in the relationships I have developed with my students and their parents. I love the reactions of my students when they perform a physical gross motor skill that they couldn’t previously perform. I love the fun I get to have when engaging my students. I love some of the stories my students tell me. Many of those stories are sad, surprising, endearing, and some just hilarious. 

How do you see your profession changing in the next 5 or 10 years? The profession of adapted physical education has changed, at warp speed, by technology advances to computer, electronic devices and apps and social media content which influence all that we do and our craft of teaching.

I get to set my own schedule. I recognize that I am a visitor to the campuses I travel to and serve. I work diligently to foster positive relationships with the administrators, campus teachers, and staff at each of my campuses I serve. I love the professional responsibility and challenge extended to me to address the physical gross motor needs of my students. I must be a detective, of sorts, as I consider the student’s age and developmental stage, strengths/limitations, health and medical issues, expressed parent interests/desires, behavior, the best instructional setting for each student, and overall fitness. I consider all these facets, and more, to design an individualized program that is meaningful to each of my students. As a member of a student’s multidisciplinary team, I routinely incorporate shared teaching strategies to further develop activities so my students may be challenged and experience and achieve successful outcomes all to hopefully lead to a more skilled mover and one that would be active throughout their life with their families.

Another aspect of our profession, a concern, is that many school districts do not have adapted physical education specialists to serve and assist students with disabilities to benefit from the unique skillset and knowledge of an adapted physical education specialist.       

What unexpected experience or event has shaped and/or influenced your current professional life? When I walked across the stage and was hooded (completion of my PhD) Dr. Ann Stuart, Chancellor and President of TWU said to me that from this day forward your life is forever changed.” My program of study and years at TWU absolutely changed my life! I have lifelong friends and colleagues. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend and experience TWU. I am a proud TWU Pioneer.

What is a professional highlight of your career, either where you currently work or in the past? Being awarded the National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year award in 2012 certainly was a highlight of my career. Little did I know the ways that it would impact me. I was asked to speak and present for the next two years traveling around the country. Then a very unexpected call rang my phone. The person on the other end said I’m from NASA in Houston. I was invited to attend the week-long ‘Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut’, Health & Fitness PE Geek Week, in July of 2013. It was an incredible experience. All of these opportunities contributed to my being recognized as Texas Woman’s University Distinguished Alumni in 2015. The national TOY award was the catalyst of all these wonderful acknowledgements in my career.

Why did you come to TWU? I came to TWU because I had a personal life goal to obtain my doctorate. A dear friend and fellow alumni, Dr. Cindy Piletic, now at Western Illinois University, encouraged me to apply for school and the rest is history. Cindy and I have been friends for nearly 35 years. When we get together, we discuss all things adapted physical education. I’m so blessed to have such a dear friend.

What is your favorite TWU memory? Oh goodness. If I had to pick one…probably…when in Dr. Jean Pyfer’s assessment class, I volunteered to have my vision examined. As I looked into the device, Dr. Pyfer asked how many visual lights/dots did I see? Putting four fingers in the air, I proudly and boisterously announced, ‘I SEE FOUR, Dr. Pyfer!’ …I should not have seen four. Hearing this, Dr. Pyfer astutely declared, ‘No one ride with Hilgenbrinck at night! Then looked at me and said, ‘Honey, your eyes aren’t working in unison. Look into it!’
Walking into Pioneer Hall for graduation…’walking’ up on the stage to be hooded with members of my family present…what a memory.
More recently, being the first class of distinguished alumni of Chancellor/President Feyten in 2015 was an incredible honor and a memory I’ll always cherish.

Did a TWU professor inspire you? Who was that and how was that person inspirational? Not just one but many! To be surrounded by these professors who were so incredibly passionate about our field…each were prolific researchers and publishers. I have had the incredible honor to research, present or publish with each of them: Dr. Jean Pyfer, my mentor; Dr. Ron French, guided me in my dissertation; Dr. Claudine Sherrill, the late Dr. Carol Huettig; and more recent APE faculty, Dr. Ron Davis, and Dr. Lisa Silliman-French. Others, I would acknowledge, the late Dr. Ann Uhlir; and Dr. Bettye Myers, as I currently have the joy to serve as the APE Specialist at the campus named in Dr. Myers honor.

Has something about your TWU education surprised you since graduating? No, not related to my course of study, but I absolutely love that TWU had such a connection with NASA and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). Such a rich history.

What advice do you have for college students hoping to succeed professionally? Do what you love and have passion for it. Don’t let failure stop your plans; you cannot be afraid to fail. Failing makes an opening to opportunities perhaps not otherwise considered.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I ride a bike, swim, work on my yard, read, travel. I love seeing newly released movies.

Page last updated 1:17 PM, July 26, 2022