Each and every one of us longs to someday retire on our own terms. Some of us are lucky to do so, some of us are not. We work our entire life for the hopes of one day not having an agenda, not having to be at work on time, and not having to answer to our superiors.
Chisago Lakes has a school Superintendent who is lucky enough to be calling it a career on his own terms. Joe Thimm is stepping down and excited to begin the next chapter in his life.
We caught up with Joe last week to get his thoughts on life, retirement, and the Chisago Lakes School District.
Let’s start at the beginning. In 1973 Joe’s parents moved to Wisconsin. Joe’s older brother lived in Minneapolis. Joe would visit his brother from time to time and would drive right through Chisago Lakes. “This place (Taylors Falls) was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been to” says Joe. While attending college at Iowa Wesleyan in Mount Pleasant Iowa, Joe met his future wife Dawn. Joe was an all-american basketball player and Dawn was in the nursing program.
In his senior year, Joe noticed on the job board there was an opening at the Taylors Falls MN School District. The position was 7-12 social studies along with head basketball coach. Joe applied, and was called by Sig Rimestad. Married now, Joe and his wife Dawn met with Sig and was immediately presented with a contract. Joe said Rimestad liked the way Joe shook his hand and felt good about him. He started in August of 1980. They ended up living in Amery because Dawn found a job in Glenwood City as a registered nurse. Dawn eventually took a job at Chisago County and the two moved to Chisago Lakes.
They have two children, Treva who lives in Los Angeles. She is doing very well for herself. Joe and Dawn have a second daughter Ashley who lives in Brooklyn New York. She works at the Whitney Art Museum in the development field. Joe notes that both his daughters have done great in their respective careers.
Joe is a very emotional person, who wears his heart on his sleeve. When asked what the most difficult thing he has had to do either as a superintendant, teacer, ad or coach was, Joe will say “Hands down, cutting kids from sports teams. I can deal with parents, I can deal with referendums, just about anything, but cutting kids from a team just ripped my heart out”.
Joe who was the basketball coach for Chisago Lakes Varsity tells us that he had to remove himself from tryouts. Eventually he started an intermural league so those kids who got cut, could still play the game they loved. Eventually Joe replaced himself when he bacame the Chisago Lakes Athletic Director with the late Herb Jangor.
Asked about the best experience Joe has had in his tenure, Thimm quickly responds, “Where we are as a district currently has to be the most satisfying. Passing a historic referendum and hopefully securing our future for the next twenty years”. Thimm is quick to point out that it couldn’t have been done without the public’s vote and support.
Have you ever had a student that changed your life he is asked. Thimm quips that every student has changed his life. When pressed harder Thimm recalls a student that he coached basketball at Taylors Falls. They had a dress code for players the days of the game. Ties, dress shirt and dress shoes. A boy on the team came to Thimm after practice and quietly told him his basketball shoes were all he owned. An emotional Thimm said, “This is the one event that changed how I coach, I can’t assume anything, I have to take into consideration every family and their situations”.
Thimm recalls from then on he stocked his desk with a drawer full of ties to help out any players from being singled out.
As many of you know, if there is was an event, be it a sporting event or academic event, odds are Thimm was there. Asked what advice he can offer new Superintendant Dean Jennissen, Thimm answers “Be accessible, listen, measure everything. The key is to be seen in the communites and the buildings. It will give him a better understanding on how the district works” Thimm adds.
Did Thimm ever envision his life turning out this way?
“I assumed I would have been a lifelong coach and retire as a coach, but then I look at how could I have best served my family? I knew I had to go back and further my education to help my family out”. “The real reason I persued the Superintendent position was to hopefully bring the district together and work as one” Thimm states. “I hated to see teachers that were unhappy and administration that failed to communicate with the teachers, our employees make up our company”.
So what does the future hold for Joe and Dawn? “I am going to continue with the Lions Club, I will continue to help my wife with her booth at Picket Fence Gals” Thimm adds. “As far as leaving the area, we are living in the perfect spot, we have lakes, ski hills, close to the cities, what else could you want?” asks Thimm.
If you spot Thimm out and about in the near future, wish him a happy retirement.