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Palisade native serves as Associate Dean of Education at UNK PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 26 February 2015 04:23

Dennis Potthoff, a Palisade native, is an 18 year long faculty member at the University of Nebraska Kearney with an impressive teaching reputation. Potthoff is the son of Betty and the late Frank Potthoff. (Courtesy Photo)


By Christi Christner

The Wauneta Breeze


Wauneta and Palisade have been known as one school for some time now, but even before these two towns combined academically both communities were sending out great minds into the world.

One of these people is Dennis Potthoff a Palisade native who is now the Associate Dean at the University of Nebraska Kearney. Potthoff, son of Palisade resident Betty and the late Frank Potthoff, attended school in Palisade from Kindergarten through his senior year. “Out of the ten students in our graduating class, seven were together from Kindergarten to grade 12! We knew each other pretty well!” said Potthoff.

Like many of his fellow classmates, Potthoff was involved in many extra curricular activities like football, basketball, baseball, track, one act, student council, speech and drama.

“Doing so many things probably meant that I would not become really proficient at one or two things. Instead I became sort of good at several things. I am still okay with that. I liked the balance,” said Potthoff.

After attending Palisade High School, Potthoff then went on to college. “...My parents were not able to attend college, but they wanted their kids to be able to attend college,” said Potthoff.

Potthoff attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln for his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

Potthoff taught both middle schools and high schools for 10 years.

In those years he taught at the Lexington Public Schools, Lincoln Public Schools and Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools in Nebraska. Potthoff also spent a year in Rideau Valley Middle School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Potthoff has taught social studies and coached volleyball, basketball and track throughout his teaching career.

Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., was his first experience in the college scene. Potthoff has now been a faculty member at the University of Nebraska Kearney since 1996.

Growing up in such a small community has only aided Potthoff in his career. “I believe that “most of who I am” was shaped during my growing up years in Palisade,” said Potthoff.

Potthoff and his wife, Patricia, have been married for almost 32 years. They have three children who have all graduated from high school, and are out making lives for themselves. “We don’t have any grandchildren yet- and that is okay,” said Potthoff.

Many fond memories originate from Palisade for Potthoff. “I have several books worth of childhood memories. If you asked me again tomorrow I would probably come up with another set of memories.”

The small, yet mighty Palisade community, was warmly remembered by Potthoff. “I remember that I loved growing up in Palisade. Of course I had absolutely nothing to compare it to  but I genuinely loved it. Even though I’ve not lived in Palisade for 35 years, if someone asks me where home is, my first, most immediate answer is Palisade.  It remains a very important part of who I am,” said Potthoff.

When asked if he had any life advice for both high schoolers and college students he said, “First, I would remind students of the importance of education. The future of our democratic society hinges, to a very large degree, on our ability to maintain an educated citizenry. At some point students need to take control of their own learning. I challenge all members of the human race to aspire to live this principle – whether they are young or old and regardless of whether they are an inhabitant of the smallest village or the largest city. Be kind to others in small and large ways. I am absolutely confident that the smallest acts of kindness can make a huge difference.”