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Unified Academies leader leaving district; strong partnerships to continue to move forward
Dan Thielen

Unified Academies leader leaving district; strong partnerships to continue to move forward


RACINE — Dan Thielen, who was instrumental in the launch and implementation of Racine Unified’s Academies of Racine, plans to leave the district.

Thielen, currently Unified’s chief of schools, was previously the district’s chief of secondary transformation, and helped to transform the district’s high school model through the Academies.

The Academies of Racine, the implementation of which began four years ago, are small learning communities that provide real-world experiences with local businesses and professionals, linking schoolwork and the workplace. Through the academies, students choose between various pathways of focus, such as engineering or business.

Thielen is set to become assistant superintendent for the Oak Creek—Franklin Joint School District, if his hire is approved by that district’s School Board during a March 30 meeting.

“It was a very difficult decision to leave,” Thielen said in an email.

Thielen was born and raised in Racine, all his children attended Racine Unified schools and his wife is a teacher in the district. He has worked for the district for 31 years.

“I have made so many great friends and had the honor to work with tremendous staff and outstanding students and families,” Thielen said.

He expressed appreciation for all of the Unified leaders, past and present, who provided him with opportunities within the district.

“I am a very reflective person and always challenging myself professionally,” Thielen said. “With that being said, at this point in my career, I was presented with a leadership opportunity that will allow me to continue to grow and I could not pass it up.”

Sharing the glory

In speaking about the Academies, Thielen said, “The success with the Academies of Racine is not about one person. It is about working with an outstanding team and the partnerships we have developed and strengthened with our RUSD team, Ford Next Generation Learning, Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce, Gateway, UW-Parkside, Carthage, Higher Expectations, and so many of our local businesses, non-profits, and civic organizations.

This amazing collaboration has provided countless career and college readiness opportunities as well as workplace learning opportunities for all of our high school students. I look forward to the continued development of the K-8 transformation model and I am excited about what the future holds for the Academies of Racine and its continued growth.”

During his tenure at Racine Unified, Thielen has served as a math teacher, assistant middle school principal, high school sub-school principal, directing principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, chief of human resources and chief of secondary transformation.

During his time as the district’s chief of human resources, Thielen recruited Superintendent Eric Gallien.

“Dan has been a tremendous leader in RUSD for many years and most recently in his role overseeing the launch and implementation of the Academies of Racine,” the Racine Unified administration said in a statement. “We have a strong team in place and powerful partnerships in the community. We are confident that the Academies will continue to move forward. And if the referendum is approved, we’ll be able to continue expanding these excellent learning opportunities for our Academies students.”


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Caitlin Sievers covers education in Racine County with a primary focus on Racine Unified School District. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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