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Always up for the challenge

by HANNAH NEFF
Staff Writer | May 12, 2022 1:06 AM

Challenges are what keep her going.

For almost 33 years, Lynn Towne has been working for the Coeur d’Alene School District.

“I’ve done a little bit of almost every job the district has,” Towne said.

However, her main focus has been working with the board of trustees and the superintendent. Towne worked as clerk of the board since 2006, and acting clerk for the 10 years prior.

One of her favorite things about the job is that every day is different, often bringing unique challenges.

“I absolutely love a challenge,” Towne said. “Throw me a challenge and I will dig in. I will get answers, and I will figure it out.”

Towne said her very first job with the school district was calling for substitute teachers. She came in at 6 a.m. and listened to the voicemail to see which classes needed substitute teachers. Then at 9 a.m., she was the assistant to the assistant superintendent and the curriculum intern.

As clerk, Towne took minutes, crafted agendas, attended meetings, oversaw budgets, kept records, took care of public records requests, assisted in trustee elections and more.

“I’m busy all the time,” Towne said.

But working for the district isn't where she started. Towne said her first career was in banking as a teller at a small bank in Osborne. She said she loved it and had aspirations of becoming a manager one day, until she survived a bank robbery in the mid-'80s.

“That kind of changed things for me a little bit and I thought, maybe it’s time to start looking into other careers,” Towne said.

A friend who worked for the school district told Towne about an open position, and she said she thought it sounded like a great change.

Towne said for her, the job was like a great novel that she was so excited to flip to the next page and couldn’t put it down.

“You anticipate what’s going to happen next,” Towne said. “That’s how this job has been for me every day.”

Towne said she has also become the district historian by default.

“I so love that I can be that person that someone can come to and ask me a question about something that happened 10 years ago,” Towne said. “Most of the time I have the answer.”

Since starting at the school district in 1989, Towne has worked under 10 superintendents and 37 board members.

“I really like that I’ve become like the mom, I guess, to a lot of the administrators that are much younger than me,” Towne said. “They kind of refer to me like the mom and I wear that hat with pride.”

After over three decades with the district, Towne decided it was time for her to retire, but her passion for the job kept her there a little longer.

Towne said her original plan was to retire in July 2021, but when then-Superintendent Steve Cook announced his intention to leave, she knew she had to help through the search process. When the new superintendent came on, Towne said she decided to stay on and help him get adjusted, along with the new assistant superintendents and many new district administrators.

“I just couldn’t walk away with so many new faces at the district,” Towne said.

Towne said her new plan was to retire in January of 2022, but with trustee resignations and the potential of newly elected trustees, she decided to postpone her retirement to June 1, one last time and is happy with her decision.

In retirement, she said her plans are to focus on her new yard, garden and travel to visit family. She said she’ll also be doing some consulting work in her field as she is a trainer consultant for the Idaho School Boards Association and trains new clerks.

“I love it,” Towne said. “I just have found this love now for teaching.”

In 2020, Towne received the Idaho School Boards Association Clerk of the Year award.

"Lynn Towne will be missed,” Superintendent Shon Hocker said. “She understands the role so well that she has trained and helped many other board clerks throughout the state.”

Towne will be celebrated in a retirement open house on May 20, from 3-6 p.m. at the Midtown Center Meeting Room on Fifth Street in Coeur d’Alene.