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Benoy is new president of Education Foundation

The Education Foundation of Hudson has elected Robert Benoy, right, as the new president of the organization. Benoy replaces Doug Stohlberg, left, who has served as president for most of the past 15 years. Stohlberg stepped down from the post but will continue to serve on the board of directors. Photo by Randy Hanson

The Education Foundation of Hudson has elected Robert Benoy as the new president as the organization approaches 20 years of service to the educational community.

Benoy replaces Doug Stohlberg, who has served as president for most of the past 15 years. First elected president in 1994, Stohlberg stepped down from the post but will continue to serve on the board of directors. Board member Jodell Krause served as president for a brief stint in 2005.

"I'm excited to lead this prestigious organization," Benoy said. "The Education Foundation has had a profound impact on our local educational system and the community."

Benoy, 59, is a retired teacher, coach and school administrator. Most recently he was director of personnel services for the Hudson School District before retiring in 2006. He also did stints in Boyceville and St. Croix Central before coming to Hudson in 1987. He is a 1967 graduate of Hudson High School.

Stohlberg, 60, is executive editor of the Hudson Star-Observer. He is also from Hudson, graduating from HHS in 1966.

Organized in the fall of 1990, the Education Foundation of Hudson has developed a number of education-related and community service programs and has awarded just under $1 million in grants since the first grants were awarded in 1991.

"The first priority of the foundation has always been the children of our community," said Stohlberg. "Our goal in the past, in the present and in the future has and will always be the same -- helping children in our community lead successful and rewarding lives. The foundation has done this through grants to teachers, students and community members."

The Education Foundation was the brainchild of former Hudson High School Superintendent Dr. Ron Bernth and former Nor-Lake President, the late Jim Richardson. Much of the early funding came from Nor-Lake and former Nor-Lake owner the late Marie Blakeman.

"Nor-Lake was such a big part of getting our organization off the ground," Stohlberg said. "Marie, Jim and Barb Richardson were always very supportive. Barb continues to support and follow our activities closely. The foundation is forever indebted to the Blakeman family."

Along with Nor-Lake, a substantial amount of the early funding came from Hudson's Phipps Foundation.

Jim Richardson left the community in the mid-1990s and Stohlberg was elected president in 1994.

The foundation is involved in many education-related programs.

When the foundation began awarding grants in 1991, it had one grant category, the Star Grant. That is still a major focus of the organization. Star Grants fund classroom projects to encourage creative ideas to improve the education process. Most of the classroom projects funded by the foundation are innovative and likely would not be funded in the school's normal budgeting process.

"This has been the bread-and-butter program funded by the foundation," Stohlberg said. "We know we have touched the lives of thousands of students in the Hudson public school system, St. Patrick School and Trinity Academy."

Next came the foundation's Star Excellence Award in 1992. It is designed to recognize outstanding teachers and staff members. Awarded each spring, winning educators receive $3,000 for personal use and an engraved vase. There have been 47 winners since the program began. The educators considered for the award are nominated by the public.

Later came the Star-Initiative Grant. It is used to encourage staff training and curriculum development. Winners of these grants generally attend some sort of education session to help learn about improved classroom teaching techniques, information, etc.

In 2005, the foundation began a process to evaluate its past and look to the future. That year, the foundation hired Steve Keller as executive director. His role was reduced to part time in 2007, but during his two years of service, the foundation developed several new programs.

Among them were:

  • Connections program: Promoting community service and volunteerism, the Connections program grants up to $3,000 for programs that are designed to build positive character traits in students, teachers and community members. The intent is to teach such traits as respect, compassion, honor, patience, gratitude, integrity, humility, responsibility and good citizenship.
  • Student Strength program: Designed for students, the foundation funds student-initiated programs in schools and community that have a positive character-building effect on people and add to the quality of education offered in schools. Grants up to $1,000 may be used to cover expenses incurred in programs that promote student participation.
  • Raider Pride Alumni Partners: This relatively new program is designed with the hopes of keeping all graduates of Hudson High School connected to the school system. It is hoped that the concept may eventually evolve into an alumni association. The foundation has been compiling address lists of Hudson High School graduates and has printed and mailed four newsletters to many HHS alumni.
  • Web site: The foundation has developed a Web site with nomination forms, alumni information and foundation information;
  • The foundation is a financial partner in the Hudson High School Distinguished Alumni Award. A separate Alumni Committee is in charge of the selection process.

    The foundation is funded by private donations, mostly coming from local and area businesses, individuals and foundations.

    In addition to Stohlberg and Benoy, foundation board members are Jodell Krause, Vickie Harris, Nola Gehn, Dr. Ron Bernth, Clarence "Buck" Malick, Marion Schultz and Arnie Fett.

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