Soccer players call her “Mom,” and that says a lot about Julie Bruessel, a recent recipient of the Hidden Gems Award presented by Virtues Project-Faribault.
Julie’s about to retire from her role as the president of the Faribault High School boys’ soccer Booster Club, a position she’s held for the past 10 years. Three years ago, she also added the girls’ soccer team to her responsibilities.
Jim Bruessel nominated his wife for the Hidden Gem award last year, but Julie’s official surprise party took place Friday evening between games at the soccer complex south of Faribault Middle School.
The Hidden Gem program honors individuals in the community who make a difference with their work and service, even if they don’t always receive the recognition they deserve. Virtues Project members surprise award recipients with small ceremonies that include speeches, gifts and cake.
“You guys have meant more to [Julie] than you could ever imagine,” Jim told a group of FHS soccer players who gathered near the field for the Hidden Gems ceremony. “What you guys do out here has kept her young as she could possibly be.”
Julie’s son, Jarrad, who attended the party, explained that his mom took over as Booster Club president during his sophomore year of high school. She only intended to stay involved in the Booster Club for the duration of Jarrad’s high school career, since only parents of active soccer players belonged to the Booster Club at the time, but instead Julie increased her involvement after her son graduated in 2012.
“It’s hard to see she’s not going to be involved anymore,” said Jarrad. “…There has never been a Booster Club president quite like her.”
Julie’s involvement with Faribault soccer players began on the field, but extended beyond that. She made sure all players kept up their grades, registered on time and respected one another. Jim commended his wife for doing an excellent job “blending the different ethnic backgrounds of the team” and communicating with the families of minority students to include them in all activities.
“Julie is an inspiration to all of us, and she is such an amazing person to know,” said Abdullahi Awil, an FHS soccer player.
Jim joked that Julie wore out two vehicles giving players rides to and from events. She took some of the players’ senior pictures and made sure to take photos in general of all players so they’d have keepsakes of their soccer memories. The Minnesota United Soccer Club even used a number of her photos in a documentary.
Julie has kept in touch with players even after they graduated. Her proudest moment, she said, was when one student called her to say he was taking his General Education Development test thanks to her inspiration. As an ordained minister, Julie even served as an officiant at two of the players’ weddings.
With tears in her eyes, Julie thanked all those who put together her surprise party as well as soccer alumni and coaches. After her retirement, she joked that she wants a goal chair reserved for her at games.
“I will miss being Booster Club president, but I will never not come to a game,” said Julie. “… I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of kids.”
Faribault’s Historic Hutchinson House Bed and Breakfast is now under new ownership. Dana Anderson and his wife Olena purchased the B&B last month and have begun hosting guests.
Olena runs the day-to-day operations of the B&B. A recent immigrant from Ukraine, Olena is an attorney by training with a focus on Intellectual Property Law. Before coming to Minnesota, Olena spent 17 years as an international business manager for one of the largest farms in the Ukraine. She’s fluent in four languages — English, German, Ukranian and Russian.
Dana Anderson works as CEO Living Greens Farm. Founded in 2012, the Faribault-based company uses cutting-edge technology, known as aeroponics, to grow its lettuce and herbs.
The Andersons previously lived in Minneapolis and then in Edina, which required Dana to commute one hour each way to Living Greens’ plant in Faribault. Dana got increasingly tired of the drive and the couple decided to look for a house someplace closer. At the same time, Tammy and Doug Schluter were looking for someone to take over the stately home and B&B.
The Andersons never intended to move into a B&B, but after taking a tour of the house, they were in awe of the historic Victorian features, all so beautifully preserved. Situated on a high lot, the “Painted Lady” is hard to miss from the street, with its three story octagonal tower and classic Victorian-style wraparound porch. It’s not at all uncommon for passersby to look up at the old house and stop by just to see what’s going on inside.
“Some just stop by they say, ‘I want to have a tour of the house,’” said Olena. “They’re curious, and they admire the house, and its history.”
Inside, many ornate architectural features have been preserved largely in their original form. From the pocket doors, to gingerbread trim, to the inlaid, floors, to two elaborate fireplaces, the house looks much the same inside as it did a century ago. The house’s ornate woodwork is standing the test of time. As a scientist, Dana particularly admires the durability of the wood, grown at a time when the earth was notably cooler than it is today.
“This house is almost 128 years old, it’s just in fantastic condition,” said Dana. “It’s going to last forever.”
Like the Schluters and previous owners, the Andersons are focused on preserving and restoring the house. They’ve freshened up the exterior with a new coat of paint and have several beautification and renovation projects planned.
Hutchinson House background
The stately old mansion was built in 1892 for successful local businessman John Hutchinson. Born in Canada in 1840, Hutchinson immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 11. In 1858, Hutchinson’s family settled in Rice County where he worked with his father as a farmer, contractor and builder. Hutchinson enlisted in the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, serving in the U.S.-Dakota War as well as the Civil War.
After completing his military service, Hutchinson began a career in the saw-milling and lumber industries. He briefly served as manager for the Flynt Furniture Co. before co-founding the Faribault Furniture Co. with Albert Stockton. Hutchinson’s company was a strong success, becoming the largest furniture manufacturer in the region. Hutchinson’s business success enabled him not only to build a stately mansion but also to diversify his economic portfolio. That he did, partnering in the Faribault Roller Mills and Faribault Loan and Insurance Co.
Hutchinson’s personal life proved more difficult. He lost his first wife in 1876 and his second just a few years after moving into the mansion. He married his third wife in 1902 and lived with her in the home until the family moved out to California in 1915. He died months later at the age of 75.
For long-time educator Laura Stelter, group discussion, projects and meeting the individual needs of students are her top goals in education.
Stelter, a board member of Arcadia Charter School since 2011, now hopes to incorporate her philosophy as executive director.
Stelter, 37, a Milaca native, attended Gustavus Adolphus College and earned her master’s in teaching English as a second language from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
After receiving her license, she taught at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School for 10 years before moving into her role at Arcadia in July.
“I’ve been developing as a school leader for a long time,” she said. “I completed my admin’s license a couple years ago. I’ve been in leadership roles at Shattuck, and I feel really strongly about creating opportunities for students to get an excellent education, and this was an opportunity for me to see how I do as a school leader.”
As executive director, Stelter is overseeing Arcadia, a school that is also its own district. She is in charge of making sure the 6-12 school is properly staffed, has needed materials and equipment and sufficient systems in place. She will oversee eight advisors, who also serve as teachers, and paraprofessionals.
Stelter serves as a go-between between the school board and the school, hires staff and ensures they are functioning well.
“I make sure we are fulfilling our mission,” she said. “That’s kind of my ultimate job ... to make sure everybody is familiar.”
Stelter said former Executive Director Barb Wornson laid the groundwork for her.
“She’s really set the school up for some success in the future,” Stelter said. “She laid some really wonderful foundation.”
She believes in the school’s mission statement, which she said leads students to be engaged and independent.
“I am really excited about this school,” Stelter said. “I love the team that we have in place. I love the philosophy. We are really striving to be a progressive school that really cares about all of the people who are given to us to care for.”
She wants more of the public to be aware of the positive attributes of the school she sees.
“One of the things that we really focus on is the idea of a social contract and social-emotional learning,” she said. “And so the way that this community takes care of each other is one of the things I really love about this school.”
Stelter and her husband, Matt, have one son, William, a sixth-grader who will begin his first year at Arcadia in September. The family recently moved to Northfield after living in a dorm room on the Shattuck-St. Mary’s campus.
She hopes students understand that she is willing to let them be themselves as they develop.
“My philosophy with students is to approach them even though they are growing and learning,” Stelter said. “They are still full human beings already, and so helping them to recognize that for themselves so that they can kind of take ownership of their learning and of their lives and that they feel like I will support them without judgment. I will support their growth in any way that I can.”
Northfield Public Schools is an authorizer for the charter school, which is considered an independent entity.
Northfield Superintendent Matt Hillmann said the district is pleased that Stelter is assuming the executive director role and believes she will be “an excellent leader for Arcadia,” in the mold of former directors Wornson, Simon Tyler and Ryan Krominga.