The Redwood Area Board of Education has found its new middle-school principal, and it did not have to look very far to find him.

After learning that current RVMS principal Amanda Pederson would be stepping down at the end of the 2018-19 school year, the school board directed the Redwood Area School District administration to begin the search for the new administrator internally. The job was posted, and one individual applied for it.

His name is Bobby Elwell, and starting with the 2019-20 school year he will be serving in the role of leader for the middle school. The decision to employ Elwell became official May 9 when the board held a special meeting to talk about the process and to learn more about him.

According to Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, the position was posted April 24 through May 1, and at the end of the posting Elwell went through a series of interviews with administration and then with the middle-school staff.

“The administration met with Bobby for about an hour and a half,” said Ellingworth, adding he felt that exchange as well as the conversation held with the staff were both positive. 

While the full school board does not typically get involved in the interviewing process, Ellingworth said this was a unique situation because Elwell is currently on staff, and meeting with him prior to making their final decision would provide them the chance to ask questions and get to know Elwell better.

Elwell, who is originally from Nebraska, has been teaching health and serving as a coach in the school district during the 2018-19 school year.

Elwell told the board he earned his Masters degree in 2016 from the Moorhead campus of the University of Minnesota, and then he began the process of becoming licensed as an administrator.

Elwell said he anticipates being completed with that certification within the next few weeks.

The decision to move to Redwood Falls was an easy one for Elwell, as his wife, Brenna, is originally from the community and is a Redwood Valley graduate.

“Prior to coming here, I had the chance to see the district from the outside,” said Elwell, adding that not only came from family but from interactions he had with other coaches.

“Moving here was a personal and a professional decision,” said Elwell.

One of the issues the board felt was important was finding someone who would provide some consistency and longevity in the administrative role, and for them it made sense to look at a candidate who was already established in and committed to the community. Elwell told the board he and his family have no plans to leave.

“This is where we want to be,” he said.

Elwell will be hired on an interim basis for the 2019-20 school year, with the board planning to take a look at how things are going next February to determine if moving forward with this plan is the best option.

While the board unanimously approved Elwell’s hiring the action will become official following its May 20 board meeting when the board approves the negotiated contract between the school district and Elwell.