Boyd Huppert surprises Steil, teaches journalism

“Oh my god! You are my favorite journalist ever,” newspaper advisor Rachel Steil exclaimed upon seeing Kare 11’s Boyd Huppert enter her classroom. What started as a typical third hour newspaper class took an exciting turn when Steil was surprised with a visit from her favorite journalist, a Christmas present from her student Editor-in-Chief team.

Steil regularly shows Huppert’s work in class and refers to him heavily during her broadcast journalism teachings. Boyd’s story ‘Neighborhood of Love’ is one of Steil’s favorites, and a story that all of her newspaper students, past and present, can remember.

“They will watch everything you’ve done. All of my favorite stories are your stories,” Steil said to Huppert over the laughs of students.

Missed connections

A few weeks prior to Boyd’s surprise appearance, he was interviewing students Adam Potter and Trey Kruse at the high school. When Steil heard he was in the building and she did not have the chance to meet him, she was disappointed.

The assignment is the thing that you’re handed when you leave school, or in my case leave the newsroom, that’s the assignment. The story is what I find when I get out there.”

— Boyd Huppert

“I’m afraid there was some unfinished business from a journalism story that took place here a couple of weeks ago, so we’re going to have to get some closure on that piece. I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen a couple of weeks ago, but the good news is I think we have an opportunity to get this squared away today,” Principal Rob Bach said while addressing the class before Huppert entered.

Bach had heard many times from Steil that she is a huge fan of Hupperts, but did not think to invite her down to see him while he was in the high school. Bach wrote in an email to Editor-in-Chief Jameson Stahl that he has “heard her specifically mention Huppert many times” and thought bringing him to the high school to surprise Steil would be a great idea.

“Random thought, but we should reach out to Boyd Huppert and see if he would come in and surprise Mrs. Steil and speak,” Stahl texted to the rest of his EIC peers.

Less than a day later, Huppert replied to Stahl through email, and arrangements began to surprise Steil.

Shooting a longshot

“Mrs. Steil sounded really special and I could tell there was obviously a great deal of affection by her students for her,” Huppert said in an interview with Chris Freichels.

Huppert receives many requests for stories and visits, but chose to follow up on visiting with Steil because of Stahl’s well-worded email, and was humored by his use of the phrase “I know this might be a longshot, but…”.

“Our advisor, Rachel Steil, is such a huge fan of your work and uses you as an example in class often. She recently won Minnesota Journalism Educator of the year and our team thought it would be awesome if her favorite journalist came into her class to surprise her,” Stahl wrote. “She was very disappointed that she didn’t get the chance to meet you. I know this might be a lot to ask but would it be possible for you to come in to surprise her and possibly speak in front of the class about your experience with journalism?”

Journalist becomes teacher

“It’s up to you, but I can hangout and—” Huppert said before Steil let out an excited “Yes!”

Huppert came prepared with a computer full of raw and finished broadcast footage, and began showing Steil’s third hour newspaper class what journalism stories are really about.

“The most important thing is the most basic, and that is that you need to know what your story is about before you write your story. It also helps to understand the difference between an assignment and a story,” Huppert said. “The assignment is the thing that you’re handed when you leave school, or in my case leave the newsroom, that’s the assignment. The story is what I find when I get out there.”

“Mrs. Steil, we really appreciate everything you’ve done for us, and wanted to bring in a special surprise as kind of a Christmas present for you,” Stahl said.