By Kelsie Hoitomt
BOYCEVILLE – Before retiring in 2011, Joe Pieters molded the young minds of students at the Boyceville High School and Middle School for 40 years; one of the longest standing terms a teacher has had within the District.
Joe grew up in the Fox River Valley and attended high school in Kaukauna, which was located near Kimberly. This is also the same high school where Joe met his wife Gloria.
Growing up along the Fox River during that time meant logs were sent that way towards the Kimberly-Clark paper mill.
With the industry booming, that is where Joe worked along side his father until it was time to go back to college.
Joe attended Stevens Point State University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Secondary Education.
It was at the University that he was introduced to a man named Bill Clark. Bill was a professor who grew up in Boyceville and published the book “Panorama of Progress”, which is a history of Boyceville itself.
It was Bill who told Joe of a teaching position available at the Boyceville High School. So Joe applied and was hired.
It was that single connection that moved Joe, Gloria, their son and unborn child to the western part of the state.
It was 1971 when Joe signed his first teaching contract and he began instructing freshman and juniors in English. He also started off as a play director as well as the sophomore class advisor.
It was in those beginning years that Joe took over as yearbook advisor and he watched first hand as the “Bulldog” went from black and white to a thing of beauty, filled with color and design.
Joe taught in the high school until 1990 when the major referendum finished. He was then shifted to the middle school where he taught in the old band room.
For roughly ten years he taught seventh and eighth grade English before going back to high school curriculum around 2009/10.
Throughout the course of his 40 years, Joe started the academic awards program in 1987.
He also brought forth the idea of having professional authors make a guest appearance during Reading Week.
First Lady Jessica Doyle visited the Boyceville school for the first time during Reading Week as one of the professional readers. She read Dr. Seuss illustrations to the middle school during the 100th birthday of the late Dr. Seuss.
For three and a half years, Joe also brought a special guest with him to his classroom every day; his dog Lilly.
However, perhaps the most unique and interesting item that Joe brought along each day was his pants.
If there is one thing he is known for aside from his academic success, it is his coveted pants. Gloria handmade Joe’s star pattern pants, Animaniac themed pants, Fourth of July pants for the holiday, bicentennial pants and so on.
“I figured it was one way to keep the kids’ attention on me,” laughed Joe.
These days, the pants are neatly hanging in the closet and Joe is keeping busy with organizing the history of the Boyceville School District.
During his years as a teacher, Joe collected the annual yearbook as well as several photographs, newspaper clippings and other Bulldog memorabilia.
With this vast collection and knowledge through conversation, Joe has begun to sort out the school’s 100 plus years of history.
This project is running at full speed due to this being the Centennial year with the celebration scheduled for the second week in September.
Joe actually started collecting historical information from community members during the time when he instructed the “Schoolhouse Project”.
This project took his students out of the classroom and into the community. They were instructed to pick a one room school that used to exist within the boundaries and learn about the education in that school.
When the celebration is over with, Joe plans to continue his work in creating a solid timeline of history so the community and the more to come can remember what Boyceville was like.