When students enter Bobby Elwell’s classroom, they know he has their best interest in mind not only for today but for the rest of their lives.

As a health teacher, helping students find ways to live long, healthy lives is the goal.

“I want to teach them skills they can use now and for a lifetime,” said Elwell, adding that not only means learning how to care for themselves but also to recognize the signs to know when they need to get help.

Elwell is teaching health classes to Redwood Valley Middle School students in Grades 5-8, and he is also offering a high-school anatomy and physiology class as well as doing one section of 10th-grade health.

Originally from Seward, Neb., Elwell made his way to Minnesota after graduation from high school in 2008.

“I went to Gustavus (Adolphus College) and graduated in 2012,” said Elwell.

How did he get to Minnesota?

“We had family living in Minnesota when I was growing up,” he said, adding that meant making visits.

An older sister also made her way to Minnesota for college prior to Elwell.

During his time in college, Elwell was able to play football. However, two years into that experience injuries sidelined his football career. He then was given the chance to do some coaching.

Teaching, said Elwell, runs in the family, as both of his parents are involved in education, as are other family members. While they influenced his decision, Elwell added other teachers he had in school also impacted his decision to become an educator.

While health education was not his initial degree-seeking plan, Elwell said he was drawn to it because of personal and family experiences. 

What Elwell wanted was a chance to make an impact on students that would be lasting and life-changing, and he found that in becoming a health teacher.

Prior to coming to the Redwood Area School District, Elwell was a health and physical education teacher in the Windom Area School District. He also coached football and baseball in Windom.

The connection to family in the Redwood Area, as his wife Brenna, a special education teacher at Reede Gray Elementary School in Redwood Falls, is originally from the community, is what drew the Elwells to accept roles in the local district.

Elwell said he enjoys the chance to work with middle-school students, adding he thinks the opportunity to have an impact at that level is overlooked.

“I love the ups and downs of middle-school students,” he said. “They are such an impressionable age group. I just hope I can be one positive influence in their lives.”

For Elwell watching the growth of students from fifth grade to eighth grade is fun, adding so much happens to students physically, mentally and emotionally during that four-year period.

Beyond the classroom, Elwell is also serving as a varsity football coach.

“We have a good group of kids here, and coaching has been a lot of fun,” said Elwell, who focuses his on offensive and defensive line players.

Elwell said he appreciates small-town life, adding he really likes Redwood Falls.

“There are a lot of positive things about Redwood Falls,” said Elwell, adding he is glad they decided to make the move to the community.