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No place like home for Nobles family: Southwest Minnesota natives settle, establish careers in Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- There's no place like home. The phrase has become clich?, but for Josh and Jessica Noble it couldn't ring more true. Natives to the Worthington area, the couple has chosen to continue to call Worthington home as they raise their ow...

Noble Family
The Noble family -- Mathias, Isaiah, Josh and Jess. (RICKERS PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO)

WORTHINGTON -- There's no place like home. The phrase has become cliché, but for Josh and Jessica Noble it couldn't ring more true.

Natives to the Worthington area, the couple has chosen to continue to call Worthington home as they raise their own family and develop into their professional roles.

Many may know them as Prairie Elementary Principal Josh Noble and State Farm Insurance Agent Jessica Noble, although they just prefer Josh and Jess.

Josh grew up in Worthington and the majority of his schooling was done at Worthington public schools, having moved away to St. Charles and St. Peter only briefly at a young age. After graduating from Worthington High School in 1995, he attended Worthington Community College (now known as Minnesota West Community and Technical College) and earned his associate's degree in 1995.

While at WCC, Josh began dating the future Jessica Noble, who was a high school senior also taking classes at WCC through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO).

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Jessica grew up in the Round-Lake Brewster area and graduated from Sioux Valley-Round Lake-Brewster High School in 1997.

The two later ventured off to college -- Josh to Moorhead State, where he majored in Special Education and earned his Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD) license, and Jess to Concordia College, where she majored in communications.

Although returning home after graduation was ideal for Josh and Jess, they decided they were going to move to whatever place they could find jobs.

"As we got closer to graduating we had a lot of conversations about coming back closer to Worthington near family or more towards a suburb in the cities," Josh recalled. "Ultimately, we felt like this was a place we wanted to be."

Welcome home

The ideal became reality when Josh was hired as an elementary special education teacher at the former West Elementary. Not much had changed at the elementary school since he attended, which was helpful for the new teacher.

"It was actually kind of fun, and it was interesting," Josh said of returning to teach at the elementary school he attended as a child. "There were a handful of teachers that were still here that I had as a student. In fact, there are still some on staff (at Prairie Elementary) that were my teachers."

Returning to a familiar place and having the support of family and friends was nice for Josh and Jess. Once again, Worthington was home.

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Josh worked as a special education teacher for the next nine years. Having been raised through Worthington public schools, he could better relate to students and can truly attest to how successful students can be once attending schools in Worthington.

"I think kids that come to school here have a really good opportunity, especially as they leave Worthington High School," he explained. "I think they (students) really are ready to go to college. They've seen things within this community. I think academically they are ready to go, but also just the people and situations they've had to deal with living in a community like this prepares them to venture out into college or real-world situations."

Jess found her niche in Worthington in the business community. She recalled visiting her mother at work as a child and the comfort level she established with the various people in the office. She hopes to make similar memories of her own, as she opened her on business on Jan. 1, 2009 as State Farm Insurance and financial services agent.

"I enjoy helping people," Jess said of her role as a business owner. "Yes, insurance is a need, but I have a lot of fun explaining what they (clients) are getting and how it's benefiting them."

Starting her business has been a time-consuming process, but the efforts of building it have also been beneficial in rekindling community relationships.

"Starting my own business was fun because I was able to reconnect with people," Jess recalled. "I'm from Round Lake, and I insure a lot of people in the Round Lake-Brewster area. It's been nice reconnecting with families in that area."

Jess enjoys working closely with community members, not just because it's part of her job as an insurance agent, but because she is part of the community herself.

"For me it's relationships that make this community what it really is," Jess explained. "Yes, my family and my friends are important to me, but my clients are very important to me as well, and I really enjoy the people I work with. The great thing about a small community is how frequently you can interact with people. You see them (community members) at the grocery store, at sporting events, you see their kids out playing and you run into them at various places. It's pretty powerful, I think."

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Changing community

Changes within a community are inevitable, and both Josh and Jess have noted the transitions throughout their years residing in Worthington. The most notable change for Josh has been the increasingly diverse population. Being in the school system, he tries to not only embrace change but to use it as a tool to improve student growth.

"The schools have continually changed to try to find ways to grow each kid in whatever level they may be," Josh explained. "That's one of the challenges we have within the school system. We get a wide range of students with different abilities when they come into the system, and our goal as teachers is to find systems that help find where their students are at (academically) when they come to our schools."

Regardless of a changing population or not, Josh hopes the community's commitment to education will remain constant.

"I don't think we've (schools) changed in the sense that we've always tried to help students succeed, but I think it's important that within our community we realize that education is important."

Worthington may be a small town, but the opportunities available are quite impressive, according to Josh.

"There are still a lot of great things going on," he added. "There are people that step up all over that try to meet the needs of people within the community. Sometimes, that goes unnoticed."

Among the unnoticed help of community members are the efforts of the local Kiwanis members, Josh said.

"It's amazing when you watch some of the things they (Kiwanis) do," he explained. "I think it's easier to tell other people we have a really great place here when they realize the things that are going on."

A Noon Kiwanis member herself, Jess believes it is important to become actively involved within the community.

"You have to be involved," she said. "We both take the stand of not just always sitting on the outside. You need to join some of the committees and groups and try to be involved."

Giving back

Admittedly, much of the help Josh received from community members as a child wasn't recognize or appreciated until later on in life. He remembers his parents essentially letting him stay outside "until the street lights came on" and grew up among people who looked out for own another.

"I just did those things," Josh recalled of his childhood in Worthington. "I would be on my bike. I was a YMCA rat, and I would constantly be out with my friends at the pool or wherever it might be. It was enjoyable for me to grow up in a community that seemed pretty care-free. At the time I wouldn't have thought it, but there were a lot of people that had a serious, positive impact on my life. I try to find ways to do something to give back. I don't always look at it that way and think, 'I have to give back.' I just want to make sure that I'm doing some of the same things others did to help me."

He also hopes he can benefit the community by erasing some of the notions people from outside of the community may have of Worthington.

"It's fun for me when people bring up concerns about Worthington," he explained. "There are all of these perspectives that people outside of the community have, and they don't really know what it's like (in Worthington)... Jess and I are involved with the community. We have lot of good things we can say that are positive and try and change some of those perceptions."

Jess also hopes to contribute simply by letting people know she is here to help in any way possible.

"As a business owner, I want my business to impact the community in a good way. I want them to look at us as a place they can go to for help, and that we're a benefit. I want them to know we're there supporting the community and a part of the community."

Making new memories

Josh's role within the realm of education has evolved over the years. After being a special education teacher, he became the assistant principal at Prairie Elementary in 2008. This year, he took over as principal of the school.

"I love it," Josh said of his first year as principal. "It's been a great year, and the teachers around here just do amazing things."

He is no longer conscious of working among some of the same teachers that were his elementary teachers at one time.

"The way I have grown into this position has helped me because I worked with them (teachers) as a teacher myself," he explained. "I always hoped I could find something like this."

Today, Josh and Jess are the proud parents to Isaiah, 7, and Matthias, 5. They look forward to raising them in the same town where they grew up, and hope their own children leave Worthington with a heightened sense of resiliency.

"I hope they are confident young men when they leave the community," Josh said. "I hope they are strong enough to stand up for what is right. They're going to be challenged with things throughout their life here in terms of what decision they're going to make, and I hope those decisions will help prepare them for life after Worthington."

As her sons grow, Jess also hopes they begin to realize the benefits of living in a community filled with family members and close friends.

"I hope they realize how fortunate they are," Jess said of her sons. "They are blessed in many ways, and I hope that they understand that. Although they may not be able to fully understand this until a little bit later on, I hope they understand how blessed they are with family and friends."

"It's definitely just so much a part of their lives," Josh added of the amount of time his sons get to spend with family members. "It's cool to watch them with their grandparents. It's just normal to them, but hopefully they can look back and realize how blessed they were to grow up here."

Their family has grown and their new jobs have changed. Sometimes balancing their busy schedules can be a daunting task, but the family manages to make it work with the support of their loved ones.

"I think we're both very blessed to each have jobs that we each love to go and do everyday," Jess explained. "Not everyone gets to say that. The opportunity to have my own business has also given me more flexibility and time to spend with my boys, which is very important to me."

Together the Noble family enjoys being involved with their church, spending time with one another, camping, traveling and taking advantage of the warm, summer months on their acreage outside of Worthington.

While they may not know what the future holds, Josh and Jess hope to take advantage of what is in the present -- their family, their friends and their community.

"We have been blessed with an opportunity to be here, and we hope can make the best of it, too," Josh added. "It's been a whirlwind and a fun ride, but we're thankful for everything. For anyone that has ever helped us get where we are now, we want to thank them for their support. We want to make sure we don't take anything for granted."

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