New superintendent hits the ground running

One of our lead stories this week is about the new superintendent for the New Prague Area School District, Tim Dittberner.

Tim started his education career in Le Sueur, where he was a teacher and basketball coach. I remember seeing him coaching the Giants in three state tournaments in the 1980s, including a state championship in 1988. He made a name for himself as a driven, high-energy coach who demanded a lot from his players and received a maximum effort in return. New Prague basketball fans had the chance to witness that same style during the time when he took over the local program while coach Jeff Gravon fought his battle with cancer.

From there, Dittberner moved on to South St. Paul High School, where he started as a teacher and coach and later became Activities Director and assistant principal. I had a few opportunities to talk with him when I was covering South St. Paul sports for Sun Newspapers from 1999-2001.

In 2003, Dittberner was a finalist for the high school principal’s job in New Prague. That job went to Tom Doig. However, Dittberner made a good impression and Superintendent Frankie Poplau asked him to apply for the middle school principal’s job that opened up a few weeks later. He has been in that job for the last 10 years, and also had a 2-1/2 year stint as head basketball coach.

The first thing one notices about Dittberner is his enthusiasm, whether he’s talking about a basketball game, test scores at the middle school or the school district’s technology committee. He not only knows his subject, but he has a good idea what steps need to be taken to get an optimal result. He matches his enthusiasm with preparation and hard work, and just like on the basketball court, he demands the same kind of effort from those he works with.

Dittberner already has a working knowledge of the district, having been here for 10 years. He appears ready to hit the ground running in his new position. Anyone who knows him would expect nothing else.

* * * * * After the cold, rainy spring and relatively mild weather we had in April, May and June, we’ve finally put together a string of warm, sunny days that give us the impression that summer has finally arrived. It’s about time. Over the extended Fourth of July weekend, Jenny finally got the opportunity to do some serious gardening. As I wrote a few weeks back, she had been getting things prepared and had plans, but it seemed that the wet weather and other circumstances were conspiring to keep her out of the garden every time she had a few days off. She finally finished off her flower beds and put some more work into the backyard garden. I don’t know what the rest of the summer has in store for the weather, but here’s hoping everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.

* * * * * You may have noticed several weeks ago a photo submitted by readers Dick and Cheryl Dietz of a peacock that had made itself at home on their deck. The Times encourages readers to submit interesting photos from the area for publication. If you’ve got an interesting photo, we ask you to submit it to us, along with a brief description, including names of people in the photo, your name and a daytime phone number. Send the photo by email to, using the subject “Reader photo.” Digital photos should be original, unmodified images, at the highest resolution. Prints can be brought in or mailed to The Times, 200 Main St. E., New Prague, MN 56071. Prints will not be returned, but can be picked up in our office.

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