Will and Janet Williams have been involved in One91 for most of their lives. They were classmates who graduated in the second class of Burnsville High School in 1958.
They attended Savage elementary for eight years and then had two years of high school in Shakopee because District 191 had no high school at that time. Once Burnsville High School opened, Janet and Will were among student leaders who helped start up the school by selecting the mascot, school song, colors and more. Janet was the class valedictorian and Will was the first homecoming king.
"We are proud graduates of BHS and strong supporters of public education,” they say. “Whether you have children attending District 191, graduates or not, every resident should support our great schools and even consider a donation to Foundation 191 to enhance the wonderful things that our teachers do.”
They each went to college and had careers – he was a math teacher in St. Paul and she was an administrator in the Scott County Library system – and are now retired.
They’ve continued living in the district. Their three sons and a granddaughter have graduated from Burnsville High School, where another granddaughter is in the Class of 2019.
Janet was elected to the Savage City Council in 2004, then was elected as the first female mayor of the city in 2007 and has served ever since.
Will is a founding member – and continues to serve – on the Board of Foundation 191, the not-for-profit organization that began in 2005 to provide innovative learning opportunities in District 191. He is also a volunteer math tutor at the Savage Public Library.
Their families have lived in the area for many decades, and Will and Janet are known as local historians who are asked to speak to classes and civic groups. They were involved in starting up the Dan Patch Historical Society. Both were previously selected for the Burnsville High School Hall of Fame. See this year’s list of Hall of Fame inductees.
Fourth-grader Nabiil Ibrahim loves to read. That’s one reason why Nabiil came to mind when Gideon Pond Elementary School Principal Chris Bellmont was asked by the Minnesota Twins to nominate a student to be honored during a game on June 5.
The Twins honored students who embody attributes of literacy, courage and leadership. All three attributes apply to Nabiil, said Bellmont.
Teachers of selected students were also be honored that day. So Nabiil and his teacher, Janie Beeninga, were on the turf and on TV at Target Field along with other students and teachers being honored.
“Nabiil is the type of student who grabs a book to read the second he’s done with assigned work,” said Beeninga. “He inspires me with the amount he reads and he’s a wonderful role model for other students.”
His desk is often full of books. Generally, he’s got 10 books going at the same time.
“Nabiil challenges himself, and he’s open to suggestions for reading and is willing to try all kinds of books,” said Beeninga. “He reads fiction, non-fiction, comic books and all genres.”
Nabiil credits his mother with instilling a love of reading. “She would read books to me when I was little,” he said, “and she took me to the library.”
Beeninga asks all her students to read at least 40 minutes each day and to journal about what they’re reading. She enjoys the one-to-one reading conferences that she has on a regular basis with her students to discuss what they’re reading. She shares her love of books and reading with her students and suggests books they might enjoy.
“Reading is so important to all academic subjects, and to daily living,” said Beeninga. “Reading opens up so many doors in all aspects of life.
Fourth graders Efrata Eshete, Ruth Moses, Brooke Gerber and Salma Omar are outstanding overall leaders at Sioux Trail Elementary, according to Principal Shannon McParland. The girls are active in the school’s WE Day service learning club. They help with school tours and morning announcements and with building a strong sense of community at their school.
Some serve on school patrol to keep their classmates safe and on PRIDE Patrol to support activities related to the school’s focus on Prepare, Respect, Involve, Dream and Excel (PRIDE).
These students are also successful academically and are wonderful role models for younger students. They’ve still got plenty of time to decide about possible future careers, but here are some they’re considering: writer, surgeon, veterinarian, teacher, nurse, mathematician and engineer.
They’re looking forward to next year when they’ll be fifth graders -- the top grade in their school.
Jacob Johnson is in 7th grade at Nicollet Middle School and has already shown a commitment to volunteering and has already had an impact.
He serves as president of the school’s ME to WE Club, which is now in its second year of planning and coordinating school-wide volunteer activities to serve others in the local community and around the world.
Jacob not only heads up the club's brainstorming for ideas, but he coordinates all of their efforts and puts in extra time and energy as needed.
Club projects included a challenge to reduce plastic bottle purchases by re-using water bottles throughout November. The club raised $1,200 by selling Rafiki bracelets for hurricane relief in Haiti and as payment to the Kenyan artisans who made the bracelets.
Because of Jacob's brainstorming for an activity to involve more of the Nicollet community, the ME to WE Club rounded up more than 50 Nicollet students, parents, and staff members to make 530 sandwiches for homeless people in January 2017.
Since then they’ve made another 2,990 sandwiches, and the group has committed to making 3,000 sandwiches in May -- all inspired and under the direction of Jacob. As the total goal for sandwiches has increased, Jacob has come up with new ways to raise money for the groceries needed to make them.
This past winter, it was Jacob’s idea to have a clothing drive contest between advisory classes. Within three short weeks, Nicollet collected a small truckload of clothing to donate for those in need.
This amazing student demonstrates a concern and caring for others and a commitment to volunteering that is extraordinary for someone of his age.
Olivia Brammer truly brings the district’s mission of “Future Ready” and “Community Strong” to life.
This remarkable student has been involved with so much of what happens at Burnsville High School, and her extraordinary commitment to volunteering has inspired many others.
Oliva has volunteered over 1,081 hours of service during during the past 2 and a half years at Burnsville High School, wisely using her volunteering to express her passions in life and explore her options for the future.
Some examples of her volunteering include Bowls for BrainPower, BHS Giving Garden, South of the River Pow Wow, multi-cultural night, BurnsvilleStrong, and senior class officer.
Olivia is the house manager for for theater productions at BHS, and she created a mentor program in working with special education students to become volunteer ushers during theatre productions.
Olivia is the only student member of two community groups: the city of Burnsville’s Park and Natural Resources Commission and the city’s International Festival. She’s a leader in the YMCA’s Youth in Government program.
She is a person who dives into life and activities with passion and excitement which ignites sparks in the people around her. She is driven to make a change in the world and has many ideas on how to do that. Whatever she’s involved in, Olivia always has the best interests of ALL students at heart and is working to make her school and community a better place.
Olivia has tremendous impact by her example, and she makes everyone feel included and gets them to work together as a team. She is a role model and mentor for younger students.
Students at Burnsville High School see how dedicated she is to her community, how kind she is to everyone, and how hard she works to achieve goals.
Burnsville High School junior Will Trussell earned quite the distinction for himself. He received a perfect score of 36 on the ACT exam, an accomplishment that less than 0.1 percent of students nationwide obtain.
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam consisting of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36. The composite score is the average of the four test scores.
What’s even more astonishing is that Will took the test just one time and didn’t really prepare for it.
“Will is extremely motivated,” said Kristina Aars, American history teacher at Burnsville. “He is naturally, extremely intelligent, but he also works very hard. In AP/CIS American History, he completes the voluminous readings in advance, every time.
At Burnsville High School, William is involved in quiz bowl and math league. He’s also in the marching band and theatre pit band.
“Being on the Quiz Bowl team and involved in math league definitely helped with taking the test. I’m used to working under pressure and within time constraints while trying to remember theorems and formulas.”
Will joked at the notion that he has now set the bar high for his five younger brothers, which include a set of twins in ninth grade and a set of triplets in sixth grade at Metcalf Middle School. His parents are Patrick and Jeanne, who are Burnsville High School graduates with deep family roots in the Burnsville community.
Will eventually plans on applying to the University of Minnesota and is interested in studying engineering.
Tom and Deb Shepley have been volunteering in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage community since 2008 when the oldest of their four sons was in the 5th grade.
In particular, Tom and Deb have been involved in supporting student-athletes, their families and athletic programs, according to community member Cheryl Bardwell, who nominated the couple for this award.
They’ve provided continued positive support to each and every player at various athletic events including football, basketball, baseball, track and field, lacrosse and tennis.
They’ve spent many hours supporting, feeding, fundraising not only for their boys, but many student-athletes. They are outstanding examples of what it means to volunteer; to willingly serve their community and schools.
Tom and Deb have run Booster Clubs, served on boards, organized tournaments, led fundraising events, and managed concessions. The time they’ve put into these activities is truly remarkable.
They’ve also built community by hosting team meals and organizing team banquets.
Tom and Deb are the biggest super fans to ALL the athletes and provide continued positive support.
Tom and Deb were among parents who contributed to the start of a homework tutoring sessions and provide students-athletes with academic support, a meal, a semi-quiet place to study and rides home if needed. They also reach out to the parents of the players to welcome them and encourage and support their involvement.
Creating this positive environment is what makes Tom and Deb so special. They encourage others to volunteer of their time and talents. They lead by example and are role models for other parents in the district on how to give back to their community and provide support to their children.
Tom and Deb are a dynamic duo whose leadership, dedication and commitment to helping others has touched the lives of students, families, staff and community members. They are truly inspiring.