GLEN ELLYN – Seven years have gone by quickly for Jane Thorsen, who will retire from her position as principal of Glenbard West High School at the end of the month.
“In a flash of lightning, they have just gone so quickly,” Thorsen said. “It seems like I was just walking in the front door.”
But during her time at West, Thorsen has left her mark.
The high school was ranked fifth best high school in Illinois on a list compiled by The Washington Post in 2012. West also has been named an AP Majority School, meaning more than 50 percent of seniors took an AP test and scored a three or higher during their high school career.
“But nothing that happened here happened because of me,” Thorsen said. “It happened because of the community and the students and the parents.”
Thorsen came to Glenbard West in 2006 after years in education – this marks her 34th year in the field.
She worked as assistant principal in other districts until deciding it was time she held the role of principal and pursued the open position at West.
In addition to the academic successes the high school has seen under her leadership, Thorsen also said she has placed a special emphasis on the students themselves and their interests, often seeking to hire faculty and staff who share that focus.
This attitude has been noted by her colleagues in the district, including Superintendent David Larson.
“You can see that – wherever she is, whatever she’s doing – she really has the students’ interests as a central focal point,” Larson said.
Her seven years as principal have not been without their difficulties, however.
One of her greatest challenges has been renovating Memorial Field, a process that took several years of meeting with involved parties until the project could get off the ground, Thorsen said.
Although the school wanted the new turf field and lights, she said it was important for her as the principal to listen to the school’s neighbors, who had concerns.
“You have to build solid, trusting relationships with people so that they understand that your goal is really to be a good neighbor,” Thorsen said.
Even though Thorsen will no longer have her duties as principal, she’s not planning to slow down for more than a few months to spend time unwinding and relaxing before getting a start on her bucket list.
The list includes working on her family’s farm, gardening, hiking, biking, photographing old barns, taking flying lessons and traveling all over the world, including to both of the Earth’s poles.
Thorsen said she’s not one to sit around and let the grass grow under her feet.
“There’s just so many things to do in this life,” she said.