Joel Westenberg knows he has an important role to play at St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls.

After all, the students in his classroom are in their final years at the school, and so he knows his role is helping to prepare them for what comes next.

“I want to make sure they know their Savior and are solid in their Christian faith,” said Westenberg, adding he also knows that means preparing the seventh- and eighth-grade students at St. John to stand up for what they believe. “I also want to make sure they are ready to tackle the challenges of life that will come their way, and that they are ready for high school.”

Originally from Marshfield, Wis. Westenberg grew up receiving a Christian education, and as the son of a pastor and a teacher, he felt called to serve in ministry.

His choice was to become an educator, and so he earned his degree in elementary education and social studies from Martin Luther College (MLC) in New Ulm.

Westenberg said he wanted to become a teacher, because it gave him the chance to help students realize their talents and gifts and then to cultivate them as they grow into who they are.

A big thing for Westenberg is helping the students find their passion, just like he did as an educator. All of that needs to be balanced with the faith development of the students. 

Westenberg said everything that is done at St. John is presented in light of God’s word.

Prior to coming to Redwood Falls, Westenberg said he was given other opportunities to learn to be a teacher, adding that included working in various places from Wisconsin to Arizona.

Prior to earning his degree, Westenberg was also given the unique opportunity to teach for one year at a school in suburban Chicago. He said that experience was a good one, not only because it confirmed his desire to be a teacher but also because he learned so much that helped him as he came back and finished the final year of his degree.

The first couple of months at St. John have been a great experience , said Westenberg, adding he has been welcomed not only by the staff and students but by the parents and community.

Westenberg’s wife, Kali, is a teacher in Marshall.

When he is not in school, Westenberg said he enjoys hiking, traveling and other outdoor activities.

Westenberg, who was assigned to serve at St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls, firmly believes this is where God wants him to be.