Library media specialist recalls career in Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
Friday, June 3 was a bittersweet day for Tim Sweet, as it marked the last day of working for the Clintonville School District, and the beginning of his retirement.
Sweet spent 34 years with the district.
He said he started with the district on Feb. 1, 1982 as a classroom teacher.
“For half of my career I was a classroom teacher,” Sweet said. “I started here for a third grade teacher and I taught fourth grade here for a couple of years. Most of the time I taught third grade.”
In 1998 Sweet transitioned to the position of library media specialist for the district. It’s a transition that he said he is grateful the district allowed him to make.
Sweet said he’s been considering retirement for a couple of years.
“The school district offered early retirement which was nice,” Sweet said. “I guess you just never know what the future holds. My first wife passed away suddenly five years ago. I want to take advantage of good health right now.”
Even though the timing is right, like most retirees, Sweet said he had mixed feelings.
“There are lots of people here who I worked with and known for a long time,” Sweet said. “I enjoy teaching students but there are other things that I’d like to do too.”
Sweet, who has remarried, said he and his wife will spend more time at the property they own in Door County. He is also involved in a couple of non-profit groups that have to do with lighthouse preservation. Retirement will allow him to spend more time working with those organizations.
During his final days before retirement, Sweet said he thought most of the students at Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School knew he was retiring.
“I had a third grader come up to me and she said, ‘Mr. Sweet, why do you have to retire?’” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain it to a little kid. I just said, ‘Well, it’s probably a good time for me to do that and have somebody else come in here, who has new ideas and maybe give the library a fresh start. And I want to have the chance to do some other things that I’m interested in doing.’”
One of his fondest memories was when he helped form the library bucket brigade, when the city library was moved from its old location to its current location in 1991.
“They had their staff put some of the books in plastic grocery bags and then we had 1,000 elementary kids between the public schools and the parochial schools, we had them lined up from the old library to the new library and they passed these books,” Sweet said. “That was just kind of a cool scene.”
Looking back, Sweet, who is originally from Neenah, said he has always liked the city of Clintonville, and said it was a good size for him.
“I stayed here for 34 years so it must have been pretty good,” he said.
He added, “I’ve always appreciated the support and kindness that the community has shown me. My daughter was in a really bad car accident 14 years ago. It was at the start of the summer between her junior and senior year. We just had overwhelming support from the community to help us through that.”