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640 Humboldt Avenue
St. Paul


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Leo Bickelhaupt



BA English- Carleton College

MA English Education- University of Minnesota

Leo Bickelhaupt

My parents were traveling around Europe during the 60’s, and Spain happened to be their residence when I came into the world. I returned with my mother to the United States when I was one – my father never left Europe – and grew up in Colorado. I was raised by my mother, who never received a penny of child support. 

I spent my youth in two very beautiful mountain towns: Aspen and Boulder, Colorado. I also spent a year in Mexico City when I was eight, when my mother received a scholarship to study there.

Like many Americans today, my heritage is most easily comparable to some kind of mutt. My grandfather proudly called our heritage “the genuine American hybrid.” What is most interesting to me about it is that I have ended up in Minnesota. My father, whom I have met only twice in my life, grew up here and his side of the family goes quite a ways back in this area.  My great grandfather was a part owner of the then Minneapolis Times newspaper.  Most everyone on the Bickelhaupt side is gone now, so I guess I am here to carry on the name. I may never know my father very well, but my choice to settle in Minnesota gives us a kind of geographical and cultural link.

The desire to receive an excellent liberal arts education and play small college soccer led me to attend Carleton College. That is what led me back to my family roots on my father’s side. My mother’s folks hail from Texas; she was the daughter of an oil man, but I don’t see any neat coincidences landing me there.

Carleton proved to be an excellent place to carry out my fascination for reading, writing and learning. I was able to be involved, no engrossed, in both of my passions, soccer and books. I even had the opportunity to study for a term in Oxford, England under the British tutorial system, where I rowed on the crew team and experienced soccer British style. I see my college years as an incredible experience above and beyond the English degree I earned there. I met a lot of outstanding people, many of whom remain my closest friends.

After college I spent time in Minneapolis working as a newspaper reporter, soccer coach, bicycle messenger, and office worker. While I originally thought I wanted to be a reporter, my experience as a coach led me to believe that teaching fit better with my personality. I went back to school to get my teaching license and ended up here. 


When I first started teaching here in 1995, I didn’t realize what a long-term commitment I was making.  I have seen a lot of changes over the years at Open, but some crucial elements of our philosophy remain unchanged. OWL is a great place to work because the teachers believe in each other and strive to put students first.  I guess you could say it’s like family.  In fact, Megan, the science teacher, happens to be my wife.  We live in Saint Paul with our two kids, Dylan and  Rosalea.