Thom Determan Retires and Leaves Dubuque Schools a Better Place

One of the District's Great Consience Providers Decides to go into Private Practice

Photos and Illustration by Gary Olsen

or what it's worth, I've been to more than a few of these retirement parties, and they are all special and each is unique, but one thing many have in common is the humor and special brand of joking that is often generated at these affairs. I have a theory about that. We have to find laughs because they deflect our attention from the loss and the ultimate void left when that person departs, taking their experience with them. In Thom's case, however, he leaves behind a remarkable legacy that has made our district what it is in terms of culture, tolerance, safety, inclusion, and a social studies curriculum that has created more outstanding citizens than we'll ever be able to count. Thom Determan will surely be missed, yet his house is a half a block from The Forum, and though he's going to pursue his many consulting opportunities in earnest, we are certain he will be available to consult with us from time to time.

Though I've only been with the District for three years, one of my first friends and colleagues was Thom Determan. Some of my best award-winning projects he's had a hand in. His more than 30 years of experience as an educator was invaluable to me and anyone he collaborated with.

His retirement party at Breitbach's Derby Grange Golf and Recreation was so Thom. Family, friends, and associates, many of whom brought golf clubs, played, laughed, ate great food (the pork sandwiches were incredible), and reminisced. There were some great jokes told by the likes of John Woodin, Kris Hall, and his many friends who seized upon the occasion to have a little fun. Thom was genuinely touched.

Looking at the photos at right, you get a sense of the broad and diverse associations and friendships Thom has made during his career. But here's the best part. Everyone at this party pretty much knew each other as well as Thom. That says a lot. "Dubuque is a relationship town," Thom is fond of saying. So true.

One of his gifts was the portrait featured at the top of this webpage. Click on the banner or at top or this link to see the enlarged version.


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