New faces at Spring Grove Public School this year are Lexi Thorson, school social worker, yearbook advisor and junior high volleyball coach; Vicki Nelson, long-term substitute teacher and internal substitute teacher; Rachel Storlie, elementary music teacher; and Thomas Dunkle, junior high and high school social studies teacher and Washington, D.C. trip advisor.
Thorson graduated from Mabel High School in 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s in Social Work and two minors, one in criminal and community justice and one in family studies, from Viterbo University, La Crosse, this past May.
Lexi is glad to be back home with family, noting that her three siblings all attend school in Spring Grove. Now, she will not miss any of their activities.
As the school’s first social worker, Thorson does interventions with students, one-on-one skills, social and emotional learning, some small and large group work, and teaches a student success program. She explained, “I think that the nice part of being in a school setting is you get to see kids from kindergarten till when they graduate. It is a long growth and development versus short term.” She enjoys being involved in stuff like coaching volleyball, and she hopes to coach some softball if it is available.
Vicki Nelson graduated from Lanesboro High School and got her teaching license in Texas. She earned her Master’s in Special Education from Winona State. Nelson taught in the special education field for 23 years and retired two years ago. Last year, she was a substitute teacher for area schools, primarily Spring Grove, and this year she decided to make Spring Grove Schools a permanent home.
Nelson lives in beautiful Choice, Minn., a short drive north of Mabel on Highway 43, where she enjoys fishing and hiking and runs half-marathons and marathons. She also enjoys visiting her four kids and spending time with her grandchildren, who reside in Texas, Ohio and Washington, D.C.
“Spring Grove is a relaxing place to work. It is home. I called it home in the very beginning because the people are very kind,” answered Nelson. “They are kind everywhere. Educators are beautiful everywhere. Somehow, Spring Grove is a nice fit for me.” She explained, “I used to think that you work to live, but now I’m thinking I live and then I work. I appreciate this opportunity to make my life work.”
Rachel Storlie, a Spring Grove resident, completed a performance degree for her undergraduate degree and a Master’s in Vocal Performance. “My trajectory in the arts and in life has been mostly about performing,” shared Storlie. She teaches voice and opera at Luther College and is teaching part-time this semester at Spring Grove until a permanent music teacher is hired.
Storlie shared, “My goal in here is to make it respectful and a safe space where people can have fun through learning music and share that music with each other.”
Storlie loves traveling with her husband and mentioned that earlier this summer, they spent a month visiting Scandinavia, England and Scotland, and last fall visited France, Germany and Switzerland. Storlie exclaimed, “I want to see the whole world!” The couple also likes to cook. They have a garden and even a few chickens. You will also find Storlie at the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center.
The Sierra Nevada Mountain boy, Thomas Dunkle, earned his first degree after marrying a Wisconsin girl; a degree in archaeology history from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He joined the Army at age 28 and spent three years as a computer programmer in the Army and 15 years as a computer programmer in the civilian world. He returned to UW-L and got his teaching credential in social studies and history.
Dunkle explained that he was the community theatre leader and led drama workshops at his alma mater, Sierra High School. During college, he worked at Z93 Music in Motion and will be spinning records at the school’s homecoming dance this year.
Dunkle shared that he is looking forward to doing projects with the students, “We just did the Civil War project with my juniors and seniors where they created something about the Civil War, and I give them standards. I’ve already received some