Brittany Boegel, teacher and travel enthusiast, dies at 32
After a long day of teaching, Brittany Boegel would often stick around the school for hours, tutoring students who had missed classes, coaching the girls’ running group she’d started, or planning projects she thought would make middle schoolers more excited about learning.
Boegel poured her energy into her classroom for 10 years, opting to teach in schools where the students’ needs were often complex and the resources limited. She saw it as her personal mission to dismantle the obstacles in her students’ paths, whether that meant picking up and dropping off those who needed a ride to school or offering to coach the basketball team, despite having no experience with the sport.
When Boegel recruited her three athletic brothers to give her a crash course in basketball, one wondered out loud why she’d volunteer for such a task.
“No one else is going to coach,” she told him, “and I don’t want to be the reason these girls can’t play basketball.”
Friends and family said Boegel, who died July 4 at age 32 in a hiking accident in Alaska, packed each of her days full of work and activities meant to bring people closer. During the school year, much of her focus was on her sixth-grade students at Minneapolis’ Venture Academy, a charter school where she taught science and math for the last four years.
Colleagues knew Boegel as a highly organized and dedicated teacher who had learned to strike the delicate balance between toughness and understanding for her students. Building on her earlier experience teaching at schools in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, Boegel developed activities that helped students apply their lessons to real life, like a carnival where the sixth-graders developed their own carnival stands, made maps and sold tickets.
“She was very energetic and engaging,” said Mike Warner, a leader at Venture Academy. “She got every kid’s attention, focused on every kid, made eye contact with every kid.”
Boegel founded the school’s chapter of Girls on the Run, an organization that aims to develop girls’ confidence and healthy habits by introducing them to running and training for a race. After school, she’d stick around to coach the team — and then frequently dash off to one of her own athletic events. A lifelong athlete who swam for Wayzata High School and the College of St. Benedict, Boegel was a runner, triathlete and participant in an ever-expanding list of recreational sports.
When school adjourned for the summer, Boegel would turn her attention to another favorite activity: travel. She had a map of the world on the wall of her northeast Minneapolis apartment, where she’d mark each country she visited — 31 in total.
An economical and savvy traveler, Boegel deliberately stayed in cramped budget hostels so she could meet fellow travelers. Friend and occasional travel companion Briana Scott said Boegel’s friendliness took her far as she navigated unfamiliar situations.
“She would travel by herself, and she was resourceful and would always figure it out,” Scott said.
Boegel was with her parents and three brothers on her last trip, to Alaska, where brother Jacob Boegel said the family had a running joke that Brittany was already busy planning her next journey. (She’d been talking about visiting the Patagonia region of South America.)
But in Alaska, Boegel had been thinking about others, too. In the days after her death, several of her friends received postcards she’d sent, sharing good wishes from her latest adventure.
In addition to her brother Jacob, of Maple Grove, Boegel is survived by her parents, Don and Trish Boegel of Mound; brothers Taylor Boegel of Fort Myers, Fla., and David Boegel of Mound; and boyfriend Max McFee, of Crystal.
Erin Golden • 612-673-4790