Joel Olson – St. Francis’s Hardworking Hero


You would think that teaching full time at a high school would put enough on one’s plate, but Joel Olson’s plate seems to have no limits. 

He is a banjo player, the yearbook advisor and a teacher for St. Francis High School, an adjunct for SMSU, as well as a part-time teacher at Bethel University. Olson is loved for both his eccentric personality and his strong work ethic. Although he makes money on the side playing banjo, most of his income is earned through his teaching positions.

“At Bethel University I teach as an adjunct in the adult studies program. I just taught a class on college readiness and am now teaching a class on research writing as a part of that college readiness series. I also work as a writing specialist on Saturday mornings to help with those who need help writing their papers,” said Olson

Olson has been working at Bethel for about five years. Starting out working in the writing center, he was eventually asked to teach an academic writing class for the school and moved up from there. His wife Glenn Morehouse Olson, also a full-time teacher at St. Francis High School, works at Bethel University as well.

“I think in some ways [working in the same places together] is really beneficial… I think it makes me a better teacher and him as well… the fact that we can share our ideas and philosophy about teaching, our experiences, what’s working in his classroom and what’s working in my classroom,” said Morehouse Olson.

His ability to connect and relate with his students allows for a genuine bond, something every teacher strives for. Whether it be his sense of humor and witty comments, the way he pushes the boundaries of teaching, or his aura of inclusivity and welcomeness, he is beloved by those he works with. Students all throughout St. Francis High School have pleasant memories to share from Olson’s classroom.

“He understands us as young adults and he’s open to hearing what we all have to say. He takes the time to really listen and give genuine feedback. He’s all-around a wonderful teacher and a great guy in general,” said senior Hunter Dustman, one of Olson’s students.