The Resilience sculpture over the Blain Gilbertson Family Heritage Pedestrian Bridge in Janesville
Photo by Teresa Nguyen
Janesville Area Stories' mission is to showcase the fascinating stories of individuals, businesses and non-profits in the Janesville area. We work to share the inspiring stories of people who have wonderfully contributed in big and small ways to the history of this great city of Janesville, Wisconsin and the surrounding area.
Authentic. Trusted. Your story matters.
"Storytelling is the greatest activity of any culture"
~ Randall Wallace
Meet the Writer
Teresa (Tess) Nguyen
Teresa has been a life-long writer beginning with diary entries and poetry to an award-winning college project, songwriting, play writing, blogging and capturing our community’s oral history.
Teresa has always had a passion for listening and learning the stories of others. She began interviewing as a hobby, starting in college, interviewing her grandmother, later her uncle, a World War II vet, veterans of other wars and even her 102-year-old neighbor, who still lived independently in her home!
In 2017, the former Rock County Historical Society Executive Director, Mike Rueter, had a vision to capture our community’s oral history. Teresa began volunteering to conduct local interviews for the historical society. After a few months, Mike brought Teresa on board.
As History Teller, she developed a unique and creative style, interviewing and writing the stories of dozens of local individuals, including History Makers Award Winners, 21 community blogs and attended numerous area events. Tess expanded the program to include stories of Janesville area nonprofits and businesses.
Photo by Marsha Mood Photography
In early 2019, Teresa developed and led a "Young Writers Workshop", teaching writing techniques to budding writers who were encouraged to find new inspiration and run with their creativity.
Tess resigned from RCHS in the spring of 2019 and took that summer off to focus on family and on herself. She refocused her passion for writing stories and on October 1st, 2019, launched her own freelance writing venture, Janesville Area Stories, and designed this website, eager to fill it with this community's stories!
Teresa believes everyone has a story worth sharing! She is on a mission to share these meaningful narratives through Janesville Area Stories. She is on a mission to find stories that inspire, stories that bring the reader to realize that in each of us exists the potential to make a difference in our community.
Teresa has a true passion for this city she calls home. She believes the reason the Janesville area is exceptional is due to its giving, resilient, hard-working and inspiring people!
Teresa has an Elementary Education degree from Iowa State University with continuing education credits from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. She graduated from ISU With Distinction and earned a Distinguished Superior Writing Award from the UW Whitewater College of Letters and Science.
From 2004 - 2018, Teresa taught for the School District of Janesville as a substitute teacher and as a music teacher. For close to four of those years, she co-owned Harmony Music Academy, teaching private guitar lessons and preschool music to area students.
From 2017 - 2019, Teresa worked as the History Teller at the Rock County Historical Society, capturing the community’s oral history through inspiring interviews.
On October 1st, 2019, Teresa launched the Janesville Area Stories website and social media pages, publishing our community's stories.
Involvement - Over the years, Teresa has been involved in area non-profits such as the United Arts Alliance, G.I.F.T.S. Men's Shelter, Craig Band Boosters, the YWCA of Rock County, the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the ARISE Now Art Committee, the League of Women Voters, The Women's Fund, Janesville Art League and Diversity Action Team.
Teresa has also co-organized numerous community events and fundraisers and served on scholarship and grant committees. She has actively served as a board member on some of these great organizations.
Teresa 'Tess' Nguyen was named a 2021 Recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.
2021 YWCA Women of Distinction and Corporate Award Recipients:
Genia Stevens, Tasha Bell, Teresa Nguyen, Robin Bye, Jennie Krajeck, Rosamaria Laursen & Ian Hedges.
OTHER CREATIVE OUTLETS
Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist - Since 2002, Teresa has performed solo and with other local musicians at numerous events, fundraisers, church choirs and at gigs in the Janesville area. She has written over 160 songs, including original songs for children's productions, the music and script for a fine arts program performed at several southern Wisconsin elementary schools, and wrote several pieces of original music for community theater productions at the Janesville Performing Arts Center. Additionally, Teresa has shared her talents for 19 years as hostess of an annual Passover Seder for the St. John Vianney 5th grade students.
Artist - Teresa enjoys watercolor painting as a hobby and shares her artistic talents with the community, as well. She painted the Rainbow Tunnel at Goelzer’s First Step Nursery, a themed picnic table in downtown Janesville for the Downtown Development Alliance, (now Downtown Janesville, Inc.), the traveling Farm to Table exhibit for the Children’s Museum of Rock County, and a 13-foot-tall Rainforest Climbing Wall at Camden Playground in Palmer Park. In 2019 & 2020 she exhibited original paintings in a fundraiser for St. Elizabeth Home in Janesville and Footville, Wisconsin.
Rainforest Climbing Wall at Camden Playground
Goelzer's Tunnel (top), Children's Museum Exhibit (bottom)
Playwright/Producer - Beginning in 2017, Teresa has worked on an annual collaborative production with the Janesville Performing Arts Center, Janesville Access Television and Hedberg Public Library to write and co-produce the “Tales of…” series. These productions bring Janesville area stories to life on the JPAC stage. Over the years, Teresa conducted multiple interviews with Alan Luckett of JATV, collecting the stories and co-writing them into a script for the shows. Tess also wrote several original songs for these productions, recorded by a variety of talented, area musicians. Local actors filled the roles and the shows have been well attended by the community. Telling our community's history through stories on the stage has been one of Teresa's favorite projects!
The first production, in 2017, was “Tales of Old Marshall”, followed by “Tales of Downtown” in 2018. In January, 2020, the “Tales of Our Farms” showcased stories of local agriculture in Rock County. For the fourth "Tales of..." production, Teresa teamed up with retired Janesville Gazette reporter, Frank Schultz to co-write and co-produce the show, "Tales of Adventure" along with Alan Luckette of JATV. The show will open the first weekend of February, 2023 at the Janesville Performing Arts Center and will feature six amazing, adventure stories of local people, interviews, skits and original music.