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Glancer Magazine

15 FASCINATING FACES OF THE YEAR | Dr. Hank Thiele of Downers Grove & Roselle

by Kristen Kucharski


Each year Glancer Magazine features a distinct group of residents who are doing extraordinary things, making a difference in the lives of others by giving them hope, guidance or inspiration. Each is so talented and has persevered through all that COVID-19 has presented this past year. Their stories will touch your heart and awaken your spirit. Here are Glancer Magazine's 15 Fascinating Faces of 2020.

Dr. Hank Thiele

DOWNERS GROVE / ROSELLE–One of the most stressful days for a superintendent is deciding if they should cancel school on snow days because each and every time you get it wrong in someone’s eyes.

“That is every day this year,” Dr. Thiele, Superintendent of Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove says. “Every day is a snow day”.

In his fifth year leading the district, Dr. Thiele diligently spearheads his decisions by leaning on the values taught to him by his grandfather – hard work with a solid foundation of careful and deliberate thinking, combined with self-reflection.

In the midst of a world-wide pandemic, when decisions feel life altering, he remembers to take his time to ensure a well thought out decision that is truly in the best interest of his staff and students while honoring his allegiance to in-person learning.

“Our society has been built around having students in school. That is where all of their supports are: their teachers, friends, counselors, coaches, and other trusted adults. For some of our students it is where they get food and for others it is the one place,

they can escape abuse and be in a safe environment,” he shares. “Almost everyone remembers an adult in school that made a difference in their life - they find and make those connections here at school. The uncertainty and lack of that environment is causing high levels of stress and I feel like that stress is reduced when students can safely be at school.”

It's a tough topic that carries a great deal of responsibility garnering overwhelming emotions for even the strongest leader; so, Dr. Thiele ensures to decompress with his wife, Annel and children Maria (20) and Henry (14). He also stays actively involved in his hometown of Roselle as a baseball coach and a volunteer for the Lake Park Marching Band Parents Auxiliary.

He remembers to continually find the good points even in the worst times because there is always opportunity to look back and find the unexpected growth, newfound connection, or the value of accrued education along the way.

“I try to take note of all those while we are in our darkest times,” he says. “That way I can benefit from them when I need it most.”

Photos by Mike Catuara


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