By RUSTY EBERT
---- — KEOSAUQUA — Pam Ewell has been chosen as the new Van Buren superintendent.
After meeting with her and another applicant last week, the board agreed this week to offer the position to Ewell, who had been the superintendent of the Mount Vernon school district in eastern Iowa since 2009. She resigned from that position last month.
According to the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun newspaper, Ewell faced a number of issues during her time as Mount Vernon’s superintendent, including the suicides of three students during the 2010-11 school year and a controversy surrounding a former Mt. Vernon elementary school principal Terry Eisenbarth's alleged physical conduct with students. Ironically, Eisenbarth had been elementary principal at Van Buren before being hired at Mount Vernon.
Ewell listed a number of her achievements over her four years at Mount Vernon, including improving the solvency rating from 1.7 percent to nearly 20 percent and lowering class size.
“Our enrollment is increasing, not because the population is going up, but we are a school of choice. I want all kids to succeed," she said.
Ewell said she felt her role as superintendent is the “CEO and advisor to the board.” She said it was important to allow teachers to have an input on decisions that affect them. “If they don’t, we’re doing something wrong.” She said it was important to have professional learning communities within the school.
Ewell said she resigned at Mount Vernon “because I felt it was time to pass the baton to someone else. I accomplished all the goals the board set out.”
Asked why she considered being superintendent at a smaller school district, Ewell said, “I don’t see this as a small district. Van Buren is a viable district. My parents live near here and my daughter-in-law grew up a few miles up the road from here.”
According to a resume she distributed to the public, Ewell graduated from Iowa State University in 1982 and received her Ph.D from ISU in 2004. She has held the following positions: teacher at Pella, teacher at Newton, Central College professor, principal at Twin Cedars, principal at Saydel, principal at Grinnell and superintendent at Mount Vernon. According to the Des Moines Register, Ewell also was a finalist for the superintendent’s position at Carlisle last month.